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Driving to a greener future

Mark Mardell | 08:50 UK time, Friday, 19 December 2008

Europe's carmakers want more money, in part to cope with a brand new EU law.

The day after the European Parliament voted for new rules to govern the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) cars can emit, the car manufacturers say they need a loan of 40bn euros (£38bn). Prototype diesel/electric Peugeot 408

The boss of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association (ACEA), Ivan Hodac, says: "It will cost us an enormous amount of money, it is absolutely sure the cars will become more expensive, so the consumer will have to pay part of the bill and part of the bill will have to come from the companies.

"We have asked for a soft loan from the European Investment Bank because at this moment the industry is doing very badly and it will be very, very difficult to get the money to invest in the fuel-efficient technologies to meet the target."

As I reported a while ago, after intensive negotiation between ministers and MEPs a set of rules has been agreed, and the parliament formally voted on them on Wednesday. Campaigners like Jos Dings from Transport and Environment feel they've been watered down. He told me "carmakers in each European country have been lobbying very hard so their governments get loopholes that suited them best. The Germans wanted exemptions for big cars, the Italians wanted exemptions for Fiat, the Brits for Aston Martin and Jaguar and if you count all the loopholes together it's a Swiss cheese, with lots of air and no cheese."Hybrid engine in special Peugeot 408

As I have covered this story in some depth I have wondered why car manufacturers don't see a huge commercial advantage in being ahead of the game and producing the car of tomorrow today. The short answer appears to be that people don't want to buy them.

A couple of weeks ago I drove a special prototype Peugeot 408 round the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. It's a hybrid diesel and electric and looks just like the ordinary model.

It's a strange drive at first, just because there's no noise. In fact I though I couldn't get the engine going at first, because I couldn't hear anything. The idea is that below a certain speed - and you are always below 30km/h (19mph) in central Paris - the electric engine kicks in and the diesel cuts out. The electric battery is constantly recharged when you brake. It produces about 90g of CO2 per kilometre driven, so it's well below the targets the EU is aiming for in seven years' time.

So why not now, and why not in all cars? The Scientific Director of PSA Peugeot Citroen, Jean-Pierre Goedgebuer, was frank with me. "It's still very costly, and so on the typical vehicle we are afraid there is no market. So first we aim at putting on the market premium or distinctive cars equipped with that technology."

He wouldn't tell me the exact extra cost, but when my guess went up from £1,000 to £4,000 he suggested I was around the right area. For smaller cars I think it would be much less, but the answer to my question "why not put this technology in an ordinary family car?" was obvious. "We're afraid, we're still afraid it's too expensive."

In the end I suspect it will be oil prices and scarcity, not new laws or guilty feelings about the environment, that will force us to adopt different technology.


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  • 1. At 11:07am on 19 Dec 2008, MaxSceptic wrote:

    Oblige all EU and national government employees - From PMs, Commissars and MEPs down - to use these cars not only in their official capacity, but to buy them for personal use out of their own money.

    They'll soon change their tune.

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  • 2. At 11:18am on 19 Dec 2008, Freeborn John wrote:


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  • 3. At 11:43am on 19 Dec 2008, vagueofgodalming wrote:

    I don't have the links to hand, but I believe that through life (i.e., taking account of depreciation and fuel), hybrids are cheaper.

    So, in a sense, it's still short-term thinking. When people calculate their repayments they don't do those invisible parts of the sum properly.

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  • 4. At 11:54am on 19 Dec 2008, andfreedom wrote:

    Electric cars are great in the middle of a big city, but outside, even just in the suburbs people think very differently. And even if they didn't, why would anyone pay £20k for something that went slower and didn't drive the same? Until the day when an electric/hybrid car drives exactly the same as a normal petrol, with the only difference being what comes out the back, people just won't take that step to buying one. Perhaps the carmakers should do an incentive scheme for business to buy these cars, I know my company just bought an entire new fleet of small cars for the salesmen a few months ago.

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  • 5. At 11:56am on 19 Dec 2008, the-real-truth wrote:

    An indian company can produce a car that retails at £1000 - in europe that is the cost of 'anti-co2' measures before you even get started.

    Rip Off UK - Rip of EU...

    How are we to earn the money to pay for all these 'anti co2' measures? presumably by working harder so using more power and generating more co2 elsewhere.

    Where does the electricity come from? Oh yes, power stations that generate CO2...

    Are these emissions included in the 'co2 per mile' figures?

    Same goes for fuel cell (hydrogen) cars - hydrogen is the most plentiful element in the known universe -- but extracting it for use takes energy...

    Electricity should not be counted as an energy source - it is just a method of moving energy from place to place.

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  • 6. At 12:13pm on 19 Dec 2008, tremtastic wrote:

    These hybrid cars aren't green anyway. They use so much energy to produce and dispose of the batteries and motors.

    I read that over its lifetime, including building/disposal CO2, a Jeep is greener than a Toyota Pious.

    People ought to be looking at Fiat's new Aria engine. 600cc, 2 cylinders, 100HP, 65g/km.

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  • 7. At 12:17pm on 19 Dec 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    The problem with hybrid cars, and the Prius is probably the most well known of them, they do not do what is said on the tin.

    Figures from Toyota for example, only look at CO2 emmisions re running costs, even then the Mini cooper (a sports car!) works out better.

    If you take into account the environmental costs of producing hybrids ( they still have engine etc but in addition large batteries which require mining of nickel for example that has a direct environmental impact) then the Prius fares badly when compared to similar sized traditional cars

    It has been said the most environmetally friendly car, including initial build costs/damage) is one which is kept for a very long period of time. Unfortunately these cars also have larger than average C02 emissions and so are taxed more. This in turn means people are 'encouraged' to scrap them and get a new car. Unfortunately then you have the environmental costs of producing ther new car and so it goes on.

    The Government/E.U. if it really wanted to make an impact would put in measures to encourage people to keep cars for longer.

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  • 8. At 12:26pm on 19 Dec 2008, spikedagain wrote:

    The reason car makers are wary of the extra cost is that hybrid technology makes most sense in cities where the vehicle is continually stopping and starting. The fuel efficiency benefits drop off rapidly for out of town drivers covering longer distances.

    So while someone that drives in the city a lot might think it's worth spending an extra £2000 or so for hybrid technology, those that drive mostly on motorways out of the city won't.

    Car makers have to cater for both but, unfortunately, experience suggests that buyers are swayed more by short term price savings rather than long term economies.

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  • 9. At 12:43pm on 19 Dec 2008, onithor wrote:

    I have read a lot of sophist argument in this blog bordering on the idiotic. There are a variety of ways to produce energy without using dirty technology. Nuclear power plants emit not Co2, Wind, Geothermal, etc. Sure it takes energy to develop these green plants and cars but the pay off is ultimately better than using current technology.

    The west has shown itself unwilling to lead in this aspect. Which is a shame, because the first country to go totally green on a massive scale will be undoubtedly the world leader of the 21st century because they will be indebted to no nation and will wield an ungodly amount of influence over other countries with their ability to mass produce items on a sustainable scale.

    China is the only country that is primed to pounce on the financial opportunities that green technologies provide. China sooner or later will not want to be on Opec's short leash, nor will it want to keep itself entangled in Africa, South America, and the Near East when their assets come under attack when these people wise up to their neo colonialist ways.

    Yes you sophists out there, be content with sticking your head in the sand. America was able to capitalize on the technological revolution of the last century to leap frog Europe, and now it looks like the turn of the Chinese. Shame.

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  • 10. At 1:16pm on 19 Dec 2008, martindroberts wrote:

    What i dont understand in this day and age why can we not use more LPG?

    I have recently been to Korea where there are more LPG garages, even dedicated ones than Petrol or Diesel.

    Why is it that a far eastern country can provide a very good infrastructure, but all we ever hear in the uk is it's too dificult and too expensive.

    In Korea they literally park the LPG tanker in the garage, plug it in and when empty replace it.
    Probably some stupid EU safety rule would prevent it. Yet in Korea there is no issue. and its still deemed safe.

    We never learn in Europe what other countries are doing, we always think we should have thought about it first, so dimiss idea's when others just get on with it and think it's normal.

    This is why the US car companies are falling apart, they think some one else should pay, not them to be greener. and now they are paying for 40 years of sticking their heads in the sand. Let them go bust. Then let workers to build japanese and european cars in America. Saving the jobs but also the environment.

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  • 11. At 1:19pm on 19 Dec 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 9, onithor, agree we should be looking at cleaner ways for producing energy, certainly think the new generation nuclear plants are the ay forward. Also more work needs to be done on wind, solar and wave power.

    My problem with hybrid cars is that they are basically old technology. All they do is stick a huge heavy battery in a car in addition to a regular engine. It is not efficient and a little like the emperror's new clothes to me.

    I believe that work should take place in developing a hydrogen fuel plant in a car, which is the way forward in the medium to long term. In the mean time we also need to look at making diesel/petrol cars even more efficient. But as per my post at 7 above we also need to look at incentivising people to keep their cars longer.

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  • 12. At 1:20pm on 19 Dec 2008, riverside wrote:

    9 onithor

    Being the first in hardware does not necessarily give you any long term advantage. New nuke plants are not in place yet, current plant is aging. Geothermal in the UK? Windpower minimal at present about 10% and subsidised. Tidal, not in place. The infrastructure requirement is massive, let alone the car development, and cannot be put in place overnight. A solution is needed but you are very optimistic. It is actually better to reduce vehicle movement wherever possible rather than feed it.

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  • 13. At 1:54pm on 19 Dec 2008, Wonthillian wrote:

    I suppose the free-market solution would be for manufacturers to keep producing cars 'that people want', even if they're gas guzzlers, and continue producing them up until the point when the oil runs out, or suddenly becomes excessively expensive, so that 'what people want' is suddenly not what people want, and the market demand is for more fuel-efficient cheaper-to run-cars. So the manufacturers now come, cap in hand, for more government cash to get them out of the hole they've got themselves into the US manufacturers, ...and the banks.

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  • 14. At 3:33pm on 19 Dec 2008, Bobble wrote:

    Im lost exactly what are they complaining about? I have known for years this law would be created - Surely the car companies have been saving and refining engines for that time? Ahh yes of course THEY WANTED MORE PROFITS!

    No Sympanthy with these money grabbers AT ALL!

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  • 15. At 3:48pm on 19 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    " ...It produces about 90g of CO2 per kilometre driven ..."

    Mark, please could you give that in Miles per Gallon.

    I can do the conversions. I used to teach others to do them However it is a pain in the neck and I don't see why I should jump through hoops to please the circus masters in Brussels.

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  • 16. At 3:57pm on 19 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:


    I have been thinking about buying myself a new computer.

    You had an interesting display of computers a few months ago.

    The dimensions were mainly given in millimetres. It was hundreds of millimetres this way by hundreds that way etc. My guess is that in the real world it was something like ten inches this way by eight inches that way. It was a demonstration of the stupidity of the metric system. It was a demonstration of the way the "EU" is a pain in the neck. It was a demonstration of the way people in the UK are harassed by the "EU" every time they go shopping.

    I walked away in disgust.

    M&S please note!

    I had a similar experience in your bedding department some years ago and have not been back since.

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  • 17. At 4:31pm on 19 Dec 2008, Walshicus wrote:

    It seems to me that this is an area where regulation is very much needed. Dangerous short-termism on the part of car manufacturers shouldn't be an impediment to environmental progress. We need a Big Push - massive investment in renewables, strict legislation and import restrictions to make the change that will put European industry in position to seize the low carbon market from the off.

    "Mark, please could you give that in Miles per Gallon."
    - Suffolkboy

    Please don't, Mark. Unless you feel like giving us the numbers in furlongs per bushel or something else equally archaic.

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  • 18. At 5:11pm on 19 Dec 2008, threnodio wrote:

    The reason the market for fuel efficient vehicles is limited is that they are too expensive to buy relative to the price of conventional vehicles.

    So make conventional vehicle expensive to run by increasing road fund licence differentials, subsidising insurance on green vehicles by loading premiums on gas guzzlers, give concessions on motorway and congestion charging to green cars. Quite simply use carrots and sticks to change driving patterns. And if in the present climate, some governments are going to start underwriting car loans, be very selective about what you lend on.

    Make it worth while for the end user and you will sell the cars. Cars don't produce CO2 - driving them does.

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  • 19. At 5:15pm on 19 Dec 2008, frenchderek wrote:

    Oh dear, I suspect there are many misconceptions (or mis-readings) here.

    tremtastic, I'm sure you read the exchange wrong (was it on this blog, Mark?): the full-life (from manufacture to disposal) CO2 emissions are less for the Prius than for a Jeep.

    jordanbassett, My reading is that the reason CO2 figures for hybrids look so bad is they have to measure only the performance of their petrol/diesel engines. ie they omit the real savers of CO2.

    Mark, whilst the new Peugeot should be good news for France (it's a French company, though where it will be built?), it's hardly news. As I've noted on this site many times, Honda and Toyota are already onto their third generation hybrids. And they are selling like hot cakes (there's a waiting list in France, and there was in the US until the credit crunch). ie Toyota and Honda are making "cars that people really want".

    I see hybrids as a first step away from oil-dependency. The technology for what comes after isn't around yet, so far as I have read. But no doubt Honda and Toyota are already well advanced on their researches. And, for all their special pleading, EU car-makers are known to be investing heavily in hybrids and what comes after.

    OH, and by the way Maxsceptic, President Sarkozy has ordered that, as the ministerial fleet is renewed it must be with hybrids/electrics/or whatever other 'green' alternatives there might be. I don't suppose it involves the Presidential wagon, though ;-)

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  • 20. At 5:24pm on 19 Dec 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Re post 18, Threnodio, producing cars does cause very large CO2 emmisions, together with other pollution. You do not need to drive them, the fact it is sitting on your drive means much damage has already been done. As per my earlier post there are benefits in keeping your older car, where the CO2 and other pollution caused in initial production has already been caused.

    But I do agree with your broader point that in fact people cause CO2, not car, airplanes etc. If the Government/E.U. really wanted to reduce CO2 emissionsthey could make it less attractive for people to have children and thereby reduce the population. Perhaps for your first child you would get Government benefits (you do need some people) Second child it becomes neutral re benefits. More than two children you lose benefits. If people are really worried about CO2 emmissions, controlling the population by reducing incentives to have children will make a real difference rather than tinkering with light bulbs and cars. Don't think it will happen as it appears easier politically to attack the 'gas guzzlers' than face the elephant in the room

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  • 21. At 5:30pm on 19 Dec 2008, MaxSceptic wrote:

    frenchderek @19,

    Bien sur....

    Personally I think that for the 'Glory of France' Sarkozy should be ferried around in a Citroen DS. I had a black one years ago and it was (and remains) my favourite car of all time.

    By the way, do you know where one can get a Sarkozy voodoo doll? Do the pins cause problems when brought into proximity with the blow-up Carla dolls?

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  • 22. At 5:59pm on 19 Dec 2008, jon_toronto wrote:

    The solution here is easy in principle, as always. If I buy a car, I pay 15% VAT or thereabouts and the car manufacturer gets the rest. If I want to employ someone (who would otherwise be on unemployment benefit) to come to my house and fit loft insulation or whatever, I (we?) end up paying all manner of taxes, national insurance, income tax, etc. etc before a penny arrives in the man's pocket, a total of around 100%. The solution therefore is to reduce employment taxes to 15% and increase VAT on cars to 100%: it would be good for the environment and reduce unemployment at the same time!

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  • 23. At 6:04pm on 19 Dec 2008, one step beyond wrote:

    Further info re the Prius (use this as it does seem to be the standard bearer of the hybrids concerning life time energy useage.
    Despite requests from the British Government and British media have requested Toyota release detailed figures for the energy use and CO2 emissions resulting from the building and disposal of the Prius. The UK Government Car Service run 130 Priuses, and Toyota has not supplied the detailed data that they requested, to support claims that the lifetime energy usage of the Prius, including the increased environmental cost of manufacture and disposal of the nickel-metal hydride battery, are outweighed by lower lifetime fuel consumption. Toyota states that lifetime CO2 saving is 43 percent but will not give any data to support that figure, seems to be plucked out of thin air.

    Auto express magazine magazine performed independent fuel efficiency tests, on public roads, on a number of hatchbacks, and in August 2007 published their list of the ten most efficient. The Prius achieved 10th place in the list, returning 41.5 miles per imperial gallon (6.81 L/100 km/34.6 mpg-US). A Citroën C4 Coupé 1.6 HDi got 1st place with 49.6 miles per imperial gallon (5.70 L/100 km/41.3 mpg-US

    The Prius is not bad car re CO2 emmisions, but it and other hybrids are not the saviour of mankind and people should not be fooled by smoke and mirrors that it is much better, if at all, than any other traditional modern fuel efficient car.

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  • 24. At 7:08pm on 19 Dec 2008, mapexx wrote:

    Message 16....Dinosaur.

    I am 72 yrs old and find metric far easier than Imperial. I have ten fingers not twelve and can double up by using my toes.
    My calculator works in the metric system, have you one that does the same but in dozens instead of tens?

    If it was not for people like you with your antediluvian attitudes, we would be moved on into the 21 century, instead of which we are held back by your ridiculous attachment to yesterdays poor standards.

    Bloody Luddite!

    You still cling to the dead in the water Pound as well I suppose?

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  • 25. At 8:22pm on 19 Dec 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    I work for Ford Motor Company and these are my views as a worker in the auto industry rather than any specific brand.

    The limits on CO2 set by the EU just don't make sense and some people posting today just don't seem to know why it's such a difficult task to hit. I'd like to explain my thoughts to try and dispel some of the myths I've seen on this blog.

    The auto makers are not trying to make excuses to avoid hitting the targets, they just don't know how they can hit them and still stay in business.

    Today it costs at least $1billion to design a new model, so as an example, the new Fiesta, Golf, Insignia, cost Ford, VW and GM/Vauxhall $1b each. Don't spend this amount and your car won't sell. On top of this you have to put an engine in it. No manufacturer can fund the money it takes to develop new engines and remain profitable, so they join forces - Ford and Peugeot/Citroen joined forces to make the diesel engines that fit in their cars. This is diesel technology that has been around for decades.

    Now we're talking hybrid/hydrogen etc. The facts are that all car companies are losing money. To put in in perspective, Toyota have posted their first quarter loss in their history. All manufacturers are fighting to save their lives. I can tell you it really is the case that one of every two lightbulbs has been turned off. It's desperate.

    Then the EU in their infinite wisdom expect car companies that are going to the wall to hit new targets.

    Can it be met? Yes. What is needed to meet the targets? Money, a lot of it. Do the car companies have money? No.

    A more sensible approach has to be taken. Hybrid is not necessarily the answer (for now). The technology is not quite there, but what we do have are ways to enhance existing petrol & diesel technology.

    Electric and hybrid batteries are so expensive and an absolute nightmare to dispose of environmentally. The reality is that they are so environmentally expensive to make and then get rid of. In addition they cost money and this will get passed onto the consumer.

    I fear that this will mean that an EU car today that costs £10k will cost £15k in the future. And that's not passing all the cost to the consumer. All car companies will absorb huge amounts of cost from their previous profits, which they are struggling to get at the moment.

    Honestly, this isn't a 'poor me, poor me' plea for sympathy for the car manufacturers. The truth is that GM (Vauxhall/Opel), Ford, Chrysler, Peugeot, Citroen, Fiat, Renault, Nissan, Jaguar, Land Rover, Honda, Saab, Volvo are genuinely fighting to stay in existance in 2009. The EU targets couldn't be further from their minds. Will all of these companies survive? No. Which ones will survive? I really don't know. But if the current financial climate continues and car manufacturers go to the wall, you can kiss goodbye to any EU targets and futuristic engines and look forward to massive unemployment across Europe.

    It's bleak in the auto industry, trust me.

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  • 26. At 8:52pm on 19 Dec 2008, dontmakeawave wrote:

    If we are serious about change why not jump a generation and go the hydrogen fuel cell vehicle.

    The fuel cell combines hydrogen with oxygen to make electricity. The electricity then powers the electric motor, which in turn propels the vehicle. Water is the only byproduct the engine leaves behind.

    I know the problem is hydrogen production but with a bit of effort we could produce and distribute it within 5-10 years. Forget about hybrids!

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  • 27. At 8:56pm on 19 Dec 2008, jon_toronto wrote:


    Interesting point about having ten fingers, because that is of course the original reason we count in tens and not in dozens. The people who invented dozens and fourteen pounds to the stone and so on must have been trying to confuse us; imperial was a stupid system from the very beginning.

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  • 28. At 9:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    Re. metric comments - Are you 5ft 8 or 172.7 cm? Do you use mpg? Do you want to pay for all of the roadsigns to be changed to kilometers? Is your TV 32inch or do you measure it in centimeters when you go to dixons for a new TV?

    I think you need to use both, but to get rid of imperial is madness. Keep it as it is, we know how it works today, and more importantly it does work! Makes a change.

    Are you 10 stone or 63.502931800000006kg?

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  • 29. At 9:27pm on 19 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #27 jon_toronto

    The duodecimal system was sensible in its day when coins often had to be physically cut into smaller units (12 being divisible by 2, 3, 4, and 6).

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  • 30. At 9:36pm on 19 Dec 2008, pedaloffthemetal wrote:

    Most carmakers are preoccupied with making the last model, hardly developing the engine . Ironically, the engine often is the last part of the car to break down and precisely that is the only part that needs to be replaced by a modern alternative now.

    An innovative Automotive 'player' would invent a way to replace that oldstyle dirty and polluting engine by a modern and clean update. (Not rocket science, is it?) Would the industry focus on that, they could make steps forward at a much smaller level of incremental and controllable investment. It would be eco-style too. Especially when nothing (else) is wrong with that old Mercedes or Jaguar. Or even Fiat. 'Innovative' could just as well mean retrofitting the wheels of the car with energy regenerating brakes. Yes you can.

    The crisis is misused to hide conservatism and incompetence behind developments and shortages caused elsewhere. For example, carmakers wallow in unused eco friendly patents . They need to wake up, before a new world passes them by.

    Carmakers: you could choose to build modular cars! Focus on smaller modules that you can innovate incrementally. You could make cars lighter but they do not need to be 23rd century style models. Keep what is good, only replace the obsolete parts. Start by replacing engines only. This is not just scrapyard stuff but it could be the core of your industry. Contemporate cars have qualities too. The basic concept of a car still has not changed since WWII.

    You customer will not spend the money anymore, to replace a car. But he or she will be willing to see a new engine as a profitable investment.

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  • 31. At 9:40pm on 19 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #28 mysteriousSgtWilko

    Is that miles per imperial or US gallon?

    As to weight, my US relatives measure their weight in pounds (having abandoned the rather useless concept of stones).

    Should Scotland have stuck to the different length of our miles in 1707?

    If I could be bothered, I'd retranslate your imperial/metric comparisons to make the imperial numbers look silly.

    Do you want us to return to rods and chains, and duodecimal coinage?

    You simply want to make no change in how you measure the world. If you ever do any DIY in the US, you'll find that most pre-packaged materials are dually labelled in metric (for Canada, Mexico, and export) and US measurements. Most of those I bought were however made to metric standards.

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  • 32. At 10:10pm on 19 Dec 2008, mysteriousSgtWilko wrote:

    #31 - You're absolutely right. I'm not having a go at metric. But be realistic. This is Britain and it works. Does the BBC licence fee or Royal Mail make any sense. Does the NHS make any sense? No it doesn't. But do we like it? Yes, we bloody well do!

    It's British and that (whether right or wrong) will always be the way it is. We will always have the pound, always have the Queen's head on the stamp. That's what makes us what we are. We are a nation that is individual. We don't want to be like Canada or Mexico (as you used in your example).

    Don't use the US as some sort of example, Britain will never follow that and rightly so.

    The UK is an anomaly. Many different nations, one country. No-one else has that. This is what makes us imperfectly perfect. We are one country. Try to remove that and you're on a hiding to nothing.

    Never going to happen. We're all British and proud.

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  • 33. At 10:13pm on 19 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #16. SuffolkBoy2

    "I had a similar experience in your bedding department some years ago and have not been back since."

    Sounds kinky! Perhaps it would have helped if you had been bragging about your 'size' in millimetres?


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  • 34. At 10:23pm on 19 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #32 mysteriousSgtWilko

    "The UK is an anomaly. Many different nations, one country. No-one else has that. This is what makes us imperfectly perfect. We are one country. Try to remove that and you're on a hiding to nothing.

    Never going to happen. We're all British and proud. "

    "You're avvin' a la-arff!"
    Next time you pop out of Al Murray's bar, "ave a butchers" at Brian Taylor's blog. You may not like, but you'll soon be converted! (like your first beer) :->

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  • 35. At 10:26pm on 19 Dec 2008, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    Mark wrote

    "the electric engine kicks in and the diesel cuts out. ... It produces about 90g of CO2 per kilometre driven"

    1. At least it is a diesel electric not like the Japanese petrol electric hybrids which is a good thing.

    2. Still, 90g of CO2 per kilometre driven is really not much better than the existing Peugeot diesels. There are several 5 door, 5 seat 1.6 litre ones that do between 117g and 120g of CO2 per kilometre driven in the present Peugeot range.

    (I have one - all the trimmings too, full leather, climate control, electric everything, auto this and that etc. I really don't see why any larger car is needed at all - except to syphon more cash from customers! Even my recent American visitors quite liked it! But Peugeots are not sold in the USA or Canada.)

    I really do not see that the small advantage of a few grams less is worth the extra price.

    Just stop the manufacturers making such heavy cars!

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  • 36. At 10:37pm on 19 Dec 2008, John_from_Hendon wrote:

    #3. vagueofgodalming wrote

    "hybrids are cheaper"

    Just try replacing the battery! Or even having the misfortune of letting it go flat - in fact you must run the engine for twenty minutes a week to ensure that it remains charged or you will heed the very expensive recharging vehicle / tow truck from either Toyota or Honda as once the battery is flat you cannot get the vehicle going with a set of jump leads!

    Hybrids are a dead end - just make light cars with highly efficient diesel engines.**

    There is also the question of there being sufficient lithium around to make the number of batteries if we all drove hybrids. It is highly probable that there is not sufficient lithium accessible on out planet to use present battery technology. It is all a bit like carbon capture a nice idea but a technology that does not exist - rather like endless free electricity from nuclear fusion!

    ** of course the particulates remain a problem.....

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  • 37. At 10:39pm on 19 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #32 mysteriousSgtWilko

    I was going to reply to your "British (and I don't give a damn how stupid it is)" post but aye_write got in there first.

    Suffice it to stay that the Scots will move on and leave you wallowing in "Merrie England" (enjoy your roast peacock).

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  • 38. At 11:12pm on 19 Dec 2008, arianta wrote:

    Once again drivers in this country and the rest of Europe are being penalised by the THEORY of human produced CO2 inducing global warming. The IPCC consists of scientists fully committed to this theory and they provide all the ammunition needed by the Socialist rulers of Europe to increase their natural tendancy to legislate more controls over their subject peoples.

    They should be financing engineers to deal with the effects of the natural warming and cooling cycles that our planet has experienced since it's birth

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  • 39. At 11:50pm on 19 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #21. MaxSceptic

    "By the way, do you know where one can get a Sarkozy voodoo doll?"

    Just type in 'you do doll' to Google. You can customise into a Sarkozy!

    P.S. I've no idea how Green that is.

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  • 40. At 00:56am on 20 Dec 2008, oldnat wrote:

    #39 aye_write

    And you said you admired my knowledge!

    I'm lost in admiration that anybody would be able to provide a solution to MaxSceptic's fantasies!

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  • 41. At 01:02am on 20 Dec 2008, 00eddie wrote:

    #38 arianta

    so you are another one of these people who just don't get the difference between the term 'scientific theory' and 'theory' as used in every day life? big difference! so get a clue about what you are talking about before commenting on matters you clearly don't understand!
    as for the 'Socialist rulers of Europe' and their 'natural tendancy to legislate', look where the 'total capitalist rulers of Britain/USA' and their 'tendancy not to regulate the financial markets at all' got the world economy today. great stuff! clearyly the way forward...

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  • 42. At 02:24am on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #40 oldnat

    "#39 aye_write

    And you said you admired my knowledge!

    I'm lost in admiration that anybody would be able to provide a solution to MaxSceptic's fantasies!"

    Despite your earlier slur (regarding our beloved EP!) I refute that I will assist with anyone's fantasies. Oops, don't see #33! :-/

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  • 43. At 02:33am on 20 Dec 2008, HarnessFreeEnergy wrote:

    We seriously need to get on with the business of becoming energy independent. While we are doing the happy dance around the pumps with the lower prices OPEC is planning yet more production cuts and will not quit until they achieve their desired price per barrel. The record high prices this past year have done serious damage to our economy and society. It would cost the equivalent of 60 cents per gallon to charge and drive an elctric car. If all gasoline cars, trucks, and suv's instead had plug-in electric drivetrains, the amount of electricity needed to replace gasoline is about equal to the estimated wind energy potential of the state of North Dakota.WE must move forward with energy independence. We have the knowledge, we have the technology, what America lacks is a plan. Jeff Wilson has a new book out that is beyond awesome. The Manhattan Project of 2009 Energy Independence NOW. He walks you through every aspect of oil, what it is used for besides gas, our depletion of it. The worlds increased need ie 3rd world countries becoming more modernized and consuming more. He explains EVERY alternative energy source and what role they can play to replace oil. His research is backed up with hard data and even includes a time frame and proposed legislative agendas to wean America off oil.

    He also has a VERY interesting article posted on the Better Place Blog called How Much Electricity Would It Take To Replace Gasoline you can read it @

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  • 44. At 2:32pm on 20 Dec 2008, chris smith wrote:

    You have england a small island in the world and you have north amserica asia etc who cars pollute alot more then our cars yet we get the book thrown at us for are polluting cars gree tax what a joke just like the EU

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  • 45. At 2:54pm on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #44 jaws1912

    Where is this island called England? Should someone tell them the name's already being used (by a small nation on the bottom part of a small island)? Or perhaps this is in a parallel universe...

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  • 46. At 3:59pm on 20 Dec 2008, Menedemus wrote:

    aye-write @45

    One has to wonder what Scottish Nationalism has got to do with the thread but nevertheless, is that use of "small" in connection with "small nation on the bottom part of a ... island you wrote correct?

    If the English are a "small nation" what does that make the few "Scottish" in the smaller top part . . . . . "insignificant?" ROTFLMBO

    I think you'll find the ratio of population numbers of English vs Scottish in the two parts of this small island makes "Small" and "Insignificant" appropos! ;=)

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  • 47. At 4:20pm on 20 Dec 2008, Toldyouitwould wrote:

    #3 vagueofgodalming:

    "I don't have the links to hand, but I believe that through life (i.e., taking account of depreciation and fuel), hybrids are cheaper."

    A link for you:

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  • 48. At 4:27pm on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    46. Menedemus

    Good, your teeth and jaws are working fine!

    I shall ignore your bizarre sense of glee when revelling in how small and insignificant both our nations are. Is it connected to the massive contrast you feel when you consider how importantly England or Britain should be viewed (when allowed to shine as a 'big' world power and not swallowed up by the throngs in Europe)? Only musing, so perhaps not.

    Did I menion nationalism? Anyway you did, so here's your answer.

    Taken from a previous post I did about the European parliament's power in the EU:
    "Without even the powers of a normal parliament, it's status is further diluted as MEPs are regarded as either young, inexperienced and just entering their political career, or retired members of domestic parliaments merely playing out the last days of theirs.

    No, the power lies with the European Commission, made up of 27 Commissioners appointed by......each of the member states (ah!), and even more so with the Council of Ministers as it represents the views of the governments of the member states.

    The Commission is supposed to be the most supranational but in fact is the most intergovernmental part of the EU - surprise, surprise.

    As for Scotland, well (from SIC site)
    "In the EU Scotland would probably have seven eight votes in the council of ministers, just like member states of a similar size including Denmark, Ireland, Lithuania, Slovakia and Finland. England, Wales and Northern Ireland would inherit the bulk of the present UK?s 29 votes.

    The EU would not simply dock seven from the UK?s 29. The size of the rump UK?s population would prevent that. And so there would be a voting bonus when the ?British? presence was disaggregated. It would benefit all countries because almost all of the time they would vote together on matters of common interest.

    An independent Scotland and the rump UK would therefore have more, not less, voting power than at present. Scotland would also gain perhaps 12 or so Members of the European Parliament to speak for us in Brussels and Strasbourg whereas now we have only seven (and five of them are Unionists). We would also be entitled to one European Commissioner whereas currently we are represented by Peter Mandelson!"

    If that's how it works and where the power is, should we not 'get in about it'?" (End)

    Now I am just one person from a small nation so, in all seriousness, perhaps you know better?

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  • 49. At 5:02pm on 20 Dec 2008, KrzysztofPoland wrote:

    Let us drive into Human Future not Green Future.

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  • 50. At 5:34pm on 20 Dec 2008, Menedemus wrote:

    aye_write @ #48

    If your volume of words is an indication, I see the "Biter" has got "Bit"

    I am sure you'll be far more happy talking to other Nationalist Scots in Brian's Kindergarden for insignificant Scottish people. You may even find people there who actually care about the Scottish getting the separation they want.

    I certainly do not care a jot when I am here reading a discussion about the Europe Union's green policies and the European Car Industry and do not give a fig about reading insignificant Scottish nationalist views on their own self-importance!

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  • 51. At 5:57pm on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #50. Menedemus

    Got bit?? I copied it from another post - cut and paste at all? Anyway, thank you - I knew I was right:

    1. my European analysis did not need correcting

    2. you demonstrate a horrible example of the face of Englishlishness most of your compatriots would bitterly regret that you forward - poor them! Shame on you.

    I knew the above before I replied to you in the first place.

    So thank you for making the case for Scottish independence ten or even a hundred times easier. I can use your response time and time again...

    You'd better get on with sorting out Europe going green - no doubt you will find it an analogy for Europe being sick or something (no need to thank me!).


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  • 52. At 6:14pm on 20 Dec 2008, Menedemus wrote:

    aye_write @ #51

    Being so thin skinned as to not see a joke you probably cannot see the difference between sarcasm and amusement.

    You claim my Englishness but were I simply a Scotsman, born on the north bank of the Tweed you'd probably still see me as a Sassenach because I do not support your seperationist aspirations - I never thought of the Scottish as being thin-skinned but I am now inclined to wonder if some of them are thick-headed instead!

    Try that bonnet on for sarcasm or jest as you wish. ;=)

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  • 53. At 6:30pm on 20 Dec 2008, MaxSceptic wrote:

    aye_write @39

    (and oldnat @40)


    see also Sarkozy Doll to remain on sale.

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  • 54. At 6:43pm on 20 Dec 2008, MaxSceptic wrote:

    I'm all for Scottish independence if it means that we'll never again have to suffer the likes of Brown, Darling, Martin and wee Douggie Alexander.

    (Not to mention the BBC's Scottish liberal-left media mafia: Wark, Naughtey, etc).

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  • 55. At 6:56pm on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #52. Menedemus

    "I am sure you'll be far more happy talking to other Nationalist Scots in Brian's Kindergarden for insignificant Scottish people. You may even find people there who actually care about the Scottish getting the separation they want.

    I certainly do not care a jot when I am here reading a discussion about the Europe Union's green policies and the European Car Industry and do not give a fig about reading insignificant Scottish nationalist views on their own self-importance!"

    Not a rant? - OK :-)
    I do get bored.

    Better to be good neighbours.
    Enjoy your posting!

    PS I drive a 2.2TD 1996 Toyota Estima people carrier and husband drives a 2002 2.2 Nissan X-Trail 4x4, both necessary. Therefore we would require a significant investment to 'go green'! "Hello, is that the EU?..."

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  • 56. At 7:15pm on 20 Dec 2008, BernardVC wrote:

    the argument of sgtwilko in regards to metric and imperial is silly. And obviously so.
    Basically his argument is "lets not change anything cause it has always been such."

    It is a good thing many Brits in the past didn't take this luddite view. After all, why give peasants the vote? They've never had it, never will. Why learn everyone to read? It never was such in the past. Why on earth should we invest in this newfangled steam-engine? We never needed it in the past. Trains? pah! Aeroplanes? Humbug! Computers? Pishposh!

    Sticking to the old just because that is what you're used to is madness. It's a recipe for stagnation, failure and soon after, irrelevance (and if you're lucky a page in the historybooks)

    Apparently the good sergeant is unware that the imperial system itself is an amalgamation of the individual systems that existed in the olden days, when every city or village had it's own standard. And in the time when metric was developed by some of the great scientific minds of the age there were throughout the eurosphere (the world as ruled by european nations or their ex-colonies) many "imperial systems" present. Metric has just replaced most, if not all of these oldfangled systems by a new, rational system based on science.
    The irony is of course that the imperial system itself is now defined based on metric.

    As far as the queen on coins and stamps go: using the euro doesn't change that one bit. You can put her head on stamps all you want, and the same goes for coins. Many other countries doing that.

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  • 57. At 7:36pm on 20 Dec 2008, aye_write wrote:

    #50. Menedemus

    "If your volume of words is an indication, I see the "Biter" has got "Bit"."

    I've re-read that 'bit' bit and have decided that.......I don't get it :->

    Maybe you weren't being horrible. If so, my apologies...

    #54. MaxSceptic

    While I'm still here, those you mention are the WORST type of Scots, in my opinion - can't stick them either!

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  • 58. At 11:21pm on 20 Dec 2008, Abiologist wrote:

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the House Rules.

  • 59. At 11:47pm on 20 Dec 2008, alexanderjbateman wrote:

    Hybrids are the classic example of why targets need to be better thought out, There is no point having cars that create less CO2 when actually building them is environmentally disastrous. Everybody who is sat in one of these abominations has been conned into not only massively damaging the environment, but paying through the nose for it to boot.

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  • 60. At 09:20am on 21 Dec 2008, delphius1 wrote:

    I'd like to know just who is benefitting from these ever more complex vehicles like hybrids?

    There's no need for them.

    We have the ability right now to go straight to fuel cell technology, removing the petrol or diesel engine from the equation.

    But even that technology isn't necessary as existing vehicles can be modified to burn hydrogen instead of fossil fuel.

    All it needs is the foresight and will to provide the hydrogen generation and delivery infrastructure, as well as an incentivising tax/duty regime.

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  • 61. At 10:09am on 21 Dec 2008, ClaphamBusman wrote:

    #47: that's a very interesting link about the breakpoint in purchasing vehicles. Another one is the "dust-to-dust" study, which deals with whole-life costs, and which suggests that a Prius may well be less eco-friendly than a Hummer.

    I used to work next door to a UK government department with half-a-dozen Priuses - it seemed to be quite normal practice for the fleet drivers to have their engines running whilst parked, presumably to keep the heaters or air-con working.

    Finally, if this hybrid techno;ogy is so clever, why isn't it available in something useful, like a van, estate car or taxi? Like the Peugeot that Mark drove, these small cars have a very limited practicality in real life.

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  • 62. At 10:28am on 21 Dec 2008, Terry wrote:

    The car makers may find eco cars more profitable if they allowed people to see them. We would like to get Ford's 70mpg, 115grm carbon/km Focus Econetic, but no Ford dealer within 60 miles has one available for a test drive!

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  • 63. At 10:36am on 21 Dec 2008, Wrinklyoldgit wrote:

    To mix metaphors, the carmakers simply missed the boat, they collectively buried their heads in the sand, producing hydro-carbon environmental dinosuars doomed to extinction.

    However, lets put emissions into context. All the cars in the world produce only about 6% of the world's greenhouse gases (source - the EU) and Britain about 8% of the 6% (source - the EU).

    The worlds airlines and shipping industries each produce many times more, but aggressive lobbying and political muscle means no government dares moves against them.

    Electric cars for mass transpotation are a dead end. To produce the electricity to charge the batteries - the manufacture of which itself is grossly poluting and a huge disposal legacy - means producing copious amounts of greenhouse gases or atomic waste. Windmills produce power only one day in three and at excessive costs and huge subsidies, today about £4 million per windmill built, so they are a pipedream as regards base load generation. Electric cars are limited in range and the batteries have a very limited lifespan. Hydro-carbon car engines weigh around 100-150 kilos, batteries around 300 kilos, what a waste of energy to move all the deadweight of batteries.

    Better to use windmills to generate the electricity for the production of hydrogen from water (there is little or no continuing polution) and to use the hydrogen as a fuel, when burnt it produces only water, which is what you started with.

    Virtually a zero sum solution and financially beneficial to windfarm operators as they can sell the hydrogen to the public, the government would recover the windmill subsidies through hydrogen fuel taxes.

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  • 64. At 3:59pm on 21 Dec 2008, fragility wrote:

    I wonder. Shall we not spend some billions on other equally urgent, useful and realistic measures against the global warming, like regulating solar activity which too is supposedly affecting the climate variations?

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  • 65. At 7:10pm on 21 Dec 2008, rob wrote:

    Normally I might agree, but recently there has been the good news of the Honda Insight. Finally a manufacturer has harnessed the way we MUST go - Hydrogen. Pulling out of F1 was bad news, putting this in the world is good news. For here is a vehicle which emits only water vapour. There are so many advantages over electric battery powered wastes of time. All the hassle and expense to mine the materials to make the batteries makes the pointless before we start. Batteries will have to be especially processed after use to remove all the dangerous chemicals in them, another expense. We need to recharge the stupid things which takes anything from 5 to 12 hours, and the electricty is coming from? yes right. Plus they are heavy, take up a huge amount of space and can only travel short distances. The insight is the future. Hydrogen can be placed into the market the same of petrol. You pull into a service station and fill up in the same time as it does to fill with petrol. The car goes further as well, goes faster, and is silent using an electric motor (one moving part) powered by Hydrogen which emits no polution. It is the way forwards. The less time and money wasted on battery and all other hybrids the better. America should buy out Honda to get the technology! Britain is possibly involved through Prodrive, but I am not sure, if it is good for Britain.

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  • 66. At 09:54am on 22 Dec 2008, alex_9672 wrote:

    15 and 16

    I was educated in this Britain in the last 10 years and I have NEVER been taught anything in imperial. People complain about using metric but anyone under the age of about 25 was taught metric in school. I have no idea what an inch is, but I do know what a centimetre is.

    Metric measurements aren't just something by the EU, it's been part of the National Curriculum for a while.

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  • 67. At 8:29pm on 22 Dec 2008, Wannabeyankee wrote:

    This entire blog confirms why I couldn't wait to get out of the United Kingdom, with the insidious encroachment of the EU over all and everything. My father and his father before him fought two World Wars to prevent the UK from becoming part of the Greater United States of Europe. Now it is being achieved by the stealth of the European Union. Good luck to you. You are going to need it!!

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  • 68. At 8:41pm on 22 Dec 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote:

    It is always nice; to be able to start driving towards a green future....

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  • 69. At 9:57pm on 22 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Re: 67

    Even when you are an American citizen you can not give up worrying about the "EU".

    When I talk to "EU" lovers, it doesn't take long before they start bad-mouthing the USA.

    Now the USA ain't perfect but it sure as hell ain't as bad as Russia or China but they have to attack the USA. Why?

    Because the "EU" is about megalomania and the USA is THE world power which is what they want to be.

    When they think they are ready they will drop the pretence of friendship and start getting ready to attack the USA physically.

    They have already declared war on the peoples of Britain and Europe with their Lisbon Treaty.

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  • 70. At 09:20am on 23 Dec 2008, G-in-Belgium wrote:

    0.986 miles per ounce :P

    And all our screens, TV, computer are in inches ("pouces") over here in the Benelux.

    Otherwise, on the subject of the blog, it's true that as a mister average, I'll not be investing in any of this halfway-there technology. I currently run a Citroën Berlingo during the winter and a convertible Triumph Vitesse through the non salted parts of the year and feel ill at the thought of stuffing 30000 Euro into a metal box with a bit of rubber on each corner. I'd love a zero-emissions car, but it's not physically possible, so I'll stick to what I've got.
    Most of the people I know who are avid new car purchasers tend to favour power and looks over ecological merit (if you can call it that). Not that I understand why anyone would buy a Hummer to sit in traffic jams and crawl round a town at 30km/h (18.64 mph)... Why don't they buy mopeds?

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  • 71. At 09:47am on 23 Dec 2008, JohaMe wrote:

    Re: 69.

    If it was an option for Europe to become the United States of Europe, modeled exactly like the United States of America, would you take it? You almost sound like you would...

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  • 72. At 10:12am on 23 Dec 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To SuffolkBoy2 (69):

    No no! You missed the point. You guys are enslaved now. We, the continental Europeans, are just trying to return a favor back to you. You fought for our freedom and now we are doing the same for you. Its only fair to do the same that you did for us.

    Truest me, I have heard from reliable sources that the liberation of UK is soon ahead. In the next UN security council meeting President Barroso will represent evidence that government of UK does not only have WMDs, but is also harboring known terrorists and co-operating actively with terrorist organizations: remember banks are terrorizers. Soon I promise the Operation British Freedom will start and British Islands will be liberated from the North Sea oil fields to the tower of London.

    Just hang in there, you will get soon your freedom and democracy back and evil doers will meet the swift hand of justice!

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  • 73. At 11:13am on 23 Dec 2008, fragility wrote:

    Re: 72

    As it appears, you imply that finns in the WW2 were fighting for their own enslavement. How interesting.

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  • 74. At 11:34am on 23 Dec 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To fragility (73):

    So? What is interesting there?

    Don't you know the official history, haven't you seen movies? Dude. The US and UK totally like liberated Europe from Nazis and Communist. Dude! They were like "check this out! this is democracy! drink some coke with that! cool!" and then like everybody in Europe were like totally free and stuff, they were like "gee! I don't want to be enslaved! I want burgers and French fries". You know. We are like free and stuff thanks to you and now we are like very sad face when you are not anymore like free and happy. But hey, we are going to be one happy face after liberation! Yeah!

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  • 75. At 11:47am on 23 Dec 2008, fragility wrote:

    Re: 74

    Thanks for confirming my conclusion. Do you mean that this is now an official version of the WW2 history in your country?

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  • 76. At 11:59am on 23 Dec 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To fragility (75):

    No no no. This is the whole and complete official history and truth of the matter world wide. Don't you know even that? My god. You people really need to be liberated!

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  • 77. At 12:18pm on 23 Dec 2008, Wonthillian wrote:

    Re 67

    I don't think the United States of Europe that Hitler had in mind is quite the same as what we've got at the moment, and I'm sure most of our colleagues in various minority groups would agree with that. Nobody on this thread is claiming that the EU is perfect, but please be careful with your comparisons.

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  • 78. At 12:41pm on 23 Dec 2008, fragility wrote:


    The interpretation of the ww2 history doesn't appear that uniform as you presume. As an example, your neighbours in Estonia seem to be convinced that they were liberated in 1941, after which they, together with their (contnental) european allies, were fighting for that liberty till 1945.

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  • 79. At 1:05pm on 23 Dec 2008, Jukka Rohila wrote:

    To fragility (78):

    Seriously do we have to get back to the world war 2 again? We were originally talking about the liberation of UK and returning freedom, democracy and general decency to the British people, not some age old conflict.

    Seriously, is it so hard to understand... You have two options, A) Nazis with promises of autobahns, sauerkraut and potato salad and B) The Soviets with promises of gulags and borscht soup. So while you are liberated from either of the options, you are doomed by the other option. Of course half of the Europe eventually got the option C) The Americans with burgers, French fries and rock and roll.

    Now seriously, Americans and British are in trouble, soon they don't have enough money to buy basic food supplies as hamburgers and coca-cola. We as Europeans have to make the hard part and liberate them both.

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  • 80. At 3:02pm on 23 Dec 2008, Menedemus wrote:

    Jukka_Rohila @79

    If, heaven forbid, the UK and the USA ask Finland and the rest of Europe to bail us out of the quagmire, please can you not be in the vanguard landing on our beaches to rescue us.

    I would hate to have to take up eating Kaalikaaryleet, Ruisleipa and drinking Sahti.

    Still the evening entertainment of watching and listening to "Lordi" would be so much more fun than listening to American and British music!

    Honest! ;=)

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  • 81. At 3:12pm on 23 Dec 2008, Menedemus wrote:

    Alright then! I lie . . . . .

    I would hate to have to listen to Lordi!

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  • 82. At 8:37pm on 24 Dec 2008, ClaphamBusman wrote:

    66 "... I was educated in this Britain in the last 10 years and I have NEVER been taught anything in imperial. ... I have no idea what an inch is, but I do know what a centimetre is. "
    but will you be able to cope when you have to work in a world where we use metres and millimetres?

    A degree-educated statistician in my staff genuinely did not know the relationship between centimetres and millimetres. Just as well she wasn't trying to fit parts of a spaceship together.

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  • 83. At 11:22pm on 24 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Re 82:

    I had a medical for a job. The doctor asked me how much I drank. I answered : "About three litres of beer a week." The doctor asked me how much a litre was. I only answered in litres because I had had to tell a German doctor the same thing. I am ashamed of answering in metric.

    In a class doing GCSE maths resits at an FE college about fifteen years ago I asked who knew their height in metric. Only one did. I reminded them that they had not been taught imperial. They told me their parents had taught them. They all knew their height in feet and inches.

    No. 66 claims never to have been taught anything in imperial. That may be but I have seen imperial in British maths books in the last few years.

    I believe British kids should be taught both. They could cut out the Interquartile Range if they have not already done so. I read that professional statisticians never use it anyway.

    Not quite the same but I do love a good story:

    Teaching GCSE resit in maths to 16+ kids doing a GNVQ in Business and Finance. I asked the class what was ten percent of one hundred. Only one of them knew! YES! BUSINESS AND FINANCE!!!

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  • 84. At 00:43am on 25 Dec 2008, Buzet23 wrote:

    83, SuffolkBoy2,

    You said "Teaching GCSE resit in maths to 16+ kids doing a GNVQ in Business and Finance. I asked the class what was ten percent of one hundred. Only one of them knew! YES! BUSINESS AND FINANCE!!!"

    Just a question but was one of the students doing a resit Gordon Brown trying forlornly to brush up on his maths. After all we can all see very clearly he doesn't even know two plus two makes four, to him the answer is whatever his spin tactician tells him it is. On the other hand if he wasn't one of the students maybe they were future Nu-Labour politicians, as they certainly had the right pedigree in not understanding the basics of Finance and Business.

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  • 85. At 11:28am on 25 Dec 2008, Freeborn John wrote:

    Best wishes to Mark Mardell and all the regular posters here! May 2009 be a GREAT year for liberty and democracy which will live long in the memory as the happy year in which the final stake is driven into the heart of the zombie beast that is the EU Constitution/Lisbon Treaty!

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  • 86. At 11:29am on 26 Dec 2008, johnilmalin1 wrote:

    #5 it is not rip off britain or the EU cars can be produced cheaper in india because the wages are less. if the indian workforce were paid the same as UK and Europe the cars in india would cost the same like wise if the UK car workers took a wage drop to the level of India The cars here would be two thirds cheaper.

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  • 87. At 7:06pm on 26 Dec 2008, democracythreat wrote:

    "It's bleak in the auto industry, trust me."


    How sad. I suppose that means we will all have to pay more tax in order to support the poor, crippled, ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL auto industry?

    See, this is what Mardell was actually reporting on. He was not debating energy policy, he was reporting on negotiations between the automakers and the EU government to grant the automakers huge sums of money so that.....

    ... so that what?

    I believe that was his point. (could be wrong)

    The crucial issue is not whether our cars are green or not. The crucial issue is whether auto makers make cars for profit, or whether they create jobs and thereby service the economy for the rest of us in the private sector.

    Banks no longer lend money for profit. Oh no. Get that thinking out of your heads. They "provide liquidity to the market". They are servants of the rest of us in the private sector, and we must work to sustain their profitability and output. Just so, auto manufacturers do not build cars to sell at a profit. That will not do at all. What they really do is to provide much needed jobs and revenue for the auto sector. That is a social service, and needs to be protected with taxes.

    This trend, whereby profits are privatized but loses are socialized, is dutifully following the US lead into hideous farce.

    Is this the true role of the EU? To create huge socialized/privatized industries owned by untouchable aristocrats?

    Because that is what is being negotiated just now. Your taxes are being pledged to support the private businesses of vastly wealthy individuals. The argument is that if these individuals do not make profit, the economy will suffer. Therefore they must make sustained profits, even it it must be at the public expense. Therefore their competition has no chance, and therefore they have no incentive to respond to the market forces.

    This is what your EU is all about. Government to perpetuate the power of the current owners. People are worried that it isn't democratic, but I submit, in all seriousness, that it is scarcely even market based.

    But anyway, from the commentary, this article is not about the true political and economic nature of the Brussels regime. Forgive me, Mr Mardell, if I have missed the point about the increase in hot air over Europe.

    What were the rest of you talking about? It is frightfully problematic to have to pay for the energy we use?


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  • 88. At 1:13pm on 27 Dec 2008, fragility wrote:

    A small remark on the real situation with the european state of mind concerning the long-term energy planning.

    It was reported that the EU commision spends 2.3 bln pounds a year on political propaganda of european integration. This significantly exceeds the total EU contribution into the international ITER project on nuclear fusion which is the only feasible hope for an energy source alternative to the fossile fuel in the future. Besides wasting public money on the entertaining and politically correct green exercises with windmills and ethanol.

    Who really cares? What are we discussing?

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  • 89. At 11:33am on 28 Dec 2008, lacerniagigante wrote:

    Re 10: martinroberts

    LPG is used in many European countries (e.g., Italy). It worked well as long as gas was cheap. Another problem with gas is transport and stocking (you need to invest in a whole dedicated network). It is also quite expensive (probably) compared to Korea.

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  • 90. At 07:48am on 30 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    On this site in a report on Canada I read:

    "Some 27 inches (68 cm) of snow have fallen in the region in recent days."

    It is nice to see the BBC reporting using the more sensible imperial measures. I resent being harassed by the "EU" and dictatorial "EU"-lovers every day of my life. Every time I go shopping or check my tyre pressures I am harassed by the "EU"-dictatorship. It reminds me of its nature and the urgent need to leave.

    I don't mind measurements being given in metric as well.

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  • 91. At 09:32am on 30 Dec 2008, therunciblespleen wrote:

    "" ...It produces about 90g of CO2 per kilometre driven ..."

    Mark, please could you give that in Miles per Gallon.

    I can do the conversions. I used to teach others to do them...""

    Ha ha - no wonder you aren't teaching any more if you think 'miles per gallon' is the imperial equivalent of 'g of CO2 per km'.

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  • 92. At 10:34am on 30 Dec 2008, Wonthillian wrote:

    # 90

    Oh purlese ! Stop blaming the EU for metrication. I was taught metric units in school long before we joined the EU. For most applications where you need to do calculations it's much more sensible to use metric than imperial. And if the EU's being dictorial, how come we're still buying beer in pints and driving to speed limits measured in miles per hour ? You'll be blaming the EU for banning the farthing and the half crown next!

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  • 93. At 11:14am on 30 Dec 2008, firstfiddle wrote:

    It's always the same story when hybrid cars are being advocated. The performance is quoted when the electric motor is in operation, but never an overall performance. So, what we need is a value for CO2 produced in overall operation, from battery fully charged to battery fully charged again. After all, the energy must come from the diesel running for some of the time (I suspect for most of the time), and I guess that the car then emits a lot more than just 90 g/km. So lets have a fair performance evaluation before we get all excited about who should be made to use such vehicles, and whether we are using metric or imperial units.
    The laws of physics determine that there are always efficiency losses when converting between different forms of energy. It cannot therefore be better overall to run a hybrid than a diesel car, and such claims are basically misguided (or dishonest!). This is all before looking at the very valid questions already raised by others concerning the environmental cost of producing the batteries needed by a hybrid.

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  • 94. At 1:04pm on 30 Dec 2008, greypolyglot wrote:

    Czechs and balances #42.

    SuffolkBoy2 finally managed to acknowledge that I had supplied him with information that he sought i.e. details of EU money for the BBC. (given at #55 on "New European 'No' Party".) But, sensitive soul that he is, he felt that he was entitled ("entitled" no less!) to an apology for having his "considered opinions " (his words) described as a "xenophobic rant" (mine).

    Then, in a wondrous display of old-world courtesy, he wondered if I were "over(ly) sensitive about (myself) and the"EU" and totally insensitive about the wishes of the millions of people in the "EU" who are sick of its arrogance and dictatorship"

    At #73 Czechs and balances, in the spirit of the season, I gave him his apology. Does he accept it with good grace? No. Not a word.

    Now, however, he's rattling on about inches of snow in Canada. That is REALLY weird, even for SB2, because Canada went metric in 1970. Since he doesn't really like believing a word that I, a supporter of the EU, have to say I'll refer him to the Canadian government's weights and measures website

    For the further information of this self-proclaimed former teacher, the only non-metric countries in the world today are USA, Liberia and Burma. See

    Pay attention at the back of the class!

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  • 95. At 02:30am on 31 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:


    Dear Greypolyglot,

    Thank you for your comments. They tell me that laughter is healthy.

    Thank you for your apology.

    I apologise for not having noticed it. There is this thing called money. Times are going to be bleak in the New Year, so I have had to concentrate on getting that and have not read every posting. Unfortunately I do not get paid by the CIA. I wish they would pay me for telling the truth.

    I have also not had the time to read the stuff on the funding of the BBC. I hope to do that soon. Thank you for that as well.

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  • 96. At 02:40am on 31 Dec 2008, EUprisoner209456731 wrote:

    Dear Mark,

    This angry 91-year old lady said to a bus driver: "I hope your turkey burns." I hope yours did not. I hope that you and yours had a good Christmas.

    It seems to me that there are two features of other websites that you might like to copy.

    1) Some comments including some of my own are very long. Maybe you could just give the first few lines of a posting so that readers have to click to see the rest.

    2) Some websites have things organised so that when somebody replies to your posting you get an email. That way I would not have missed greypolyglot's posting. See #95

    Unlike my views on the "EU" I am not totally confident of the rightness of my suggestions given above. They are merely suggestions.

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  • 97. At 10:19am on 31 Dec 2008, greypolyglot wrote:

    95. SuffolkBoy2 wrote:

    "I wish they would pay me for telling the truth."

    Hm. Well, I wish someone would. Even better, you could try doing so as a matter of principle.

    Do you and your ilk remember the wonderful "factual" report on the front page of the Daily Mail (25/11/05) that EU bureaucrats had banned the red duster? (for non-British readers that's the flag of the British Merchant Navy)

    The British media, owned by the likes of Conrad Black, have been brain-washing the British public with anti-EU propaganda for 30 years.

    You say "They tell me that laughter is healthy.". Do please then read the following and have a very healthy 2009.

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  • 98. At 10:56am on 31 Dec 2008, petrosk wrote:

    The matter of CO2 per mile is OK, but it misses the otehr matter: CO2 per person per month..... If I have an efficient hybrid but drive from Brighton to London and back every day, and you have a Ferrari and use it once a month to go a few miles, I still produce more CO2.

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  • 99. At 7:37pm on 07 Jan 2009, Tintech wrote:

    Wish you all a happy new year.

    I read some of the comments, not all, if I am repeating another person, please excuse me.

    It seems to me the real problem is, to take a 70 kg. (150 lbs,) person (could be 40 kg or, 140 - 90 lbs or, 300) from A to B, with as little mass as possible. My car weighs 1500 kg (3300lbs) with a full tank,
    This is 20 times my body weight. (Everything I give is approximate)
    What we need is a transport vehicle, no more than 100 kg (220 lbs) for one, 150 kg (350 lbs)
    for 2 person. It is possible to make a comfortable, all seasons machine with very good aerodynamics and close to the performance of today's passenger cars.
    A 150 to 300 cc engine with a cvt transmission could give highway speeds of 105 to 120 kph (65 to 75 mph) with a fuel consumption of less than 1 Lt per 100 km (better than 250 mpg).
    In 2 years, we may have a couple of them on the market. ..
    With today's car makers, repeating themselves and each other, gas is left pocket, hybrid is right pocket. Just tricking the non-tech consumer shamelessly. They will either change their products or, go with the dinosaurs.
    Anything electric has very dirty batteries.
    Using Hydrogen is the only way, but with extremely light, efficient machines.
    We are wandering around with our living rooms (aka car) with us.
    With that light and efficient machines, we could even get rid of the inefficiency named public transportation. Go from A to B very clean, very quiet, safe, without anybody coughing or, sneezing on your face, without touching the dirtiest imaginable things, inhaling god knows what. ...
    We have the technology, energy, space.
    We just need to re-design everything we use. Including our cities. Time will come. ..
    Thanks for your patience. ...

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