July 07, 2004


"We must tackle the environmental nightmare of 4x4s by taxing them off the road," writes The Guardian's George Monbiot:

Officially, the biggest 4x4s can manage 12 or 13 miles to the gallon in urban areas. Unofficially, US journalists found that the Ford Excursion was doing 3.7.

A Ford Excursion achieved 3.7 miles per gallon? Bullshit. Meanwhile, Monbiot happily chewed through thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying to Australia in order to promote his book.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 7, 2004 01:19 AM

A Ford Excursion achieved 3.7 miles per gallon?

In reverse, going up up an incline, towing an aircraft carrier, perhaps?

Posted by: Crusader at July 7, 2004 at 01:30 AM

Can I recommend, this useful search engine called Google? Here you go.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 7, 2004 at 01:55 AM

I salute any man that can drink the night away at the Nelson, and then come home and blog as though he's as sober as a judge.

Bully for you, old chap. ;-)

Posted by: Mike Jericho at July 7, 2004 at 01:58 AM


Youíre an idiot. The report you link to states:

ďAs we approach the hill, I hit the gas. The great vehicle pauses for a moment, as the massive torque is transmitted through its four tons, then lunges forward. We begin to climb. The engine is maxed out. Above my head, the fuel-consumption meter indicates that we're getting 3.7 miles to the gallon.Ē

That meter measures consumption as it occurs -- in this case, with the engine maxed out and climbing a hill. Monbiot compares it to figures averaged over an entire driving cycle. Hey, Iíll take you for a 20 mile drive in my 1.6 litre MX5, during which Iíll easily achieve sub-15 mpg; of course, youíll be crying at the end of it, and Iíll need new tyres. Run any engine at max revs and youíll get the economy figures Monbiot cites.

Posted by: tim at July 7, 2004 at 02:15 AM

Dear Tim,
You write:

Run any engine at max revs and youíll get the economy figures Monbiot cites.

Bullshit. You can get 3.7 mpg from your Mazda? I don't believe you.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 7, 2004 at 02:30 AM

Well, I don't know about a Mazda, but for a second and a half I got ONE MPG from an LH sedan.

Fully loaded, floored, going up a 7% grade.

Average around town was 20.

Posted by: Gary and the Samoyeds at July 7, 2004 at 02:37 AM

So it was going up a hill, and the computer was reporting real-time MPG of 3.7. The circumstances are an important detail, which I'm sure George disclosed. Um, no, I don't see that in the article. Must have been edited out or something.

Still falls under Tim's original category of bullshit, the way I see it.

And I'm pretty sure I can get any car down to 3.7 mpg. You supply the car and trailer hitch and deliver it to me at the bottom of Floyd Hill in Denver.

Posted by: Matt in Denver at July 7, 2004 at 03:00 AM

Spin the tires so as to create no forward motion.

0.0 MPG for as long as you're doing it.

This also works if the vehicle is in park.

Posted by: MattJ at July 7, 2004 at 03:09 AM

Of course you can get 3.7mpg in an MX-5. Ever tried driving 3.7 miles in first gear at 7000rpm? But I think it would be a new _engine_ you'd need, not new tyres.

On second thoughts, you'd probably consume more fuel per mile if you did it in first gear at idle, not redline. It might take an hour, but you'd burn that gallon eventually. If all else fails, park three inches from the finish line and press the little "headlights go up, headlights go down" button until you've burned off the remaining fuel.

Hey Tim, can I borrow your car?

Posted by: Jorge at July 7, 2004 at 03:13 AM


Run my car at 7,000 rpm at a standstill, and I'll get even worse than 3.7 mpg.

Posted by: tim at July 7, 2004 at 03:13 AM

So Tim, you change your story again. Now it's run at maximum revs at a standstill, not just going up a hill with the engine maxed out which is all that Excursion was doing.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 7, 2004 at 03:32 AM

Okay, I'm confused...TimL, are you seriously claiming that there's any regularly sold car available that does 3.7 miles per gallon (or for Euroweenies like me, needs 60 litres per 100 km) under normal operating circumstances (which is obviously what Moonbat was insinuating)? I'm sorry, but that's so laughably nonsensical, I'm surprised people are actually taking the time to refute you.

Posted by: PW at July 7, 2004 at 03:42 AM

Meanwhile, Monbiot happily chewed through thousands of gallons of jet fuel flying to Australia in order to promote his book.

Ooh Tim...once again... BAM! with the ironic observation.

According to Boeing's Web site, the 747 gets approximately 100 miles per gallon per person.

Perhaps such concepts of relativity may be inconvenient to rationalise when there's a simplistic dig to be made.

Seriously, can you do no better than that?

Posted by: t at July 7, 2004 at 03:46 AM


Give up while you're miles behind.


Simplistic dig? Please direct your email to Monbiot, he who is unable to distinguish between general mpg figures and those observed momentarily.

Posted by: tim at July 7, 2004 at 04:04 AM

>100 miles per gallon per person.

Funny, I don't seen Moonbat rating the Excursion by miles per gallon _per person_.

I take it Boeing arrives at that figure by seating capacity. Tim B., how many seats in an Excursion? Wha's the MPGPP? How does it compare to Moonbat's airplane?

Posted by: Dave S. at July 7, 2004 at 04:21 AM

Tim Lambert

You skewed up with those stats. Don't be so egotistical and admit it. After all you of all people should expect accuracy.

Posted by: Gary at July 7, 2004 at 04:43 AM

*I* screwed up? Tim Blair claims his 1.6l Mazda gets the same mpg as a 6.8l Excursion when they are running at max revs and you think I screwed up? Are you agreeing with him? Seriously?

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 7, 2004 at 05:43 AM

Interesting how the goalposts have moved. I thought TimL's actual complaint was about what TimB said about Moonbat's comment. Now that TimL can't seem to defend that anymore, it's about what TimB says about his own car. (No apology for the pointless 'gotcha' Google jibe, of course, and I kinda doubt one is forthcoming.)

Say, you didn't want to be taken seriously, by any chance? Too late for that now, I guess. Just keep digging.

Posted by: PW at July 7, 2004 at 06:09 AM

Dear Tim.L

You are desperately trying to divert attention away from your first comment.

Posted by: Gary at July 7, 2004 at 06:13 AM

So Gary and PW, you can't defend TimB's comment? It's pretty silly to talk about a goalpost move. He really did make the comment about any car getting the same 3.7 mpg the 6.8l Excursion got under max revs.
As for my original comment, I provided a link to a story that reported that the Excursion did achieve 3.7 mpg. According to the story, it happened twice. Is your average driver going to get that? No. Monbiot probably should have written his story more carefully.

But Blair scorned the very notion that an Excursion could achieve 3.7 mpg when in fact it did.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 7, 2004 at 06:33 AM

Excellent point on the relative inefficiency of jet fuel. I've been hammering away at this for a long while. Boats and trains are more efficient. However, their must be special privileges for the Mahers and Monbiots (to say nothing of the Ariannnas) of the world.

Posted by: Sean at July 7, 2004 at 06:40 AM

Tim L,

Assuming that "tim" is Tim B, then he did not say, ever, that he would get 3.7 mpgs in any moving car. Additionally, in order to actually get 3.7 mpg, you have to travel said mile and consume 3.7 gallons of fuel. If your car tells you that it is achieving a given mpg figure, it is only for the current time period. It would have had to have registered that figure for the amount of time it took to travel a mile. It is highly doubtful that it did that.

Posted by: Patrick at July 7, 2004 at 06:48 AM

If you have a car that calculates the instant MPG, then you'll know that it frequently jumps around, when you do things like gun the engine, it's low, and while you cruise on the highway, it's high. It's completely worthless as a tool to calculate MPG, except as a novely. You have to measure the average.

It is a lie to say that a car gets 3.7 MPG. Any car can get them, according to one of those gizmos.

Posted by: JeremyR at July 7, 2004 at 06:50 AM

But it's only for an instant.

Posted by: JeremyR at July 7, 2004 at 06:51 AM

Ummmm... I regularly average 6.5 mpg. In a Freightliner, with a 425 hp Detroit Diesel engine, gross combined vehicle weight of 40 tons. Less when standing still at high idle.

Granted, diesel fuel is much more efficient than gasoline, but the 3.7 mpg figure is absurd. Even flat out acceleration up a grade towing an overweight load, an itty bitty thing line a Ford could only drop to 3.7 for a scant moment. Assuming, of course, that the engine is not in serious need of repairs.

Posted by: nofixedabode at July 7, 2004 at 07:11 AM

Y'all don't understand. ANY Ford Excursion will do only 3.7 MPG when US journos are hauling a hitch-hiking Mikey Moore up the ramparts of partisan discourse. One must account for their politically heavy cargo and also for American journo sofistication. Any nuts and bolts understanding of fossil fuel engines and cars belongs to Bush and NASCAR throwbacks.

Still, one wonders why the sensitive and liberal journos are driving monster vehicles, anyway--- Aren't hybrids good enough for them and their news organizations? Or do they and Barbra Streisand need big SUV's, unlike the rest of the USA?

Posted by: c at July 7, 2004 at 07:22 AM

Just noticed this bit from the article:

" Why roll anything up to 7.6 tons of metal (the Hummer H1) onto the road, when a bicycle will do just as well?"

7.6 tons?! I've driven Hummers, and yeah, they're fat pigs, but 7.6 tons? Maybe loaded to the gills, maxed out pulling a trailer, but no way in hell does it have a curb weight of 7.6 tons.

Anyone have data on the original Hummer?

And to deal with the last bit of that comment, no, a bicycle would NOT do just as well, unless you've got a bike that seats your whole family plus the dog, and can simultaneously pull a 12,000lb horse trailer.

Posted by: TomK at July 7, 2004 at 07:44 AM

So Gary and PW, you can't defend TimB's comment?

There is no need to defend it, because you didn't offer an even halfway worthwhile criticism of it. (As I said in my first post, your claim was laughably bad, and it's obvious to anyone except you and Monbiot.) But I'll go for it anyway, maybe it'll help make you go away faster. Here's the part Tim quoted, again:

Officially, the biggest 4x4s can manage 12 or 13 miles to the gallon in urban areas. Unofficially, US journalists found that the Ford Excursion was doing 3.7.

Monbiot disingeniously compares the average mileage achieved under (presumably) standardized operating conditions with a case of highly artificial conditions (which can only last for minutes or seconds), and insinuates that the "official" numbers are a big lie. In fact, it's Moonbat who's lying here (by omission), and Tim called bullshit on it - and you're incompetently defending Moonbat's lie, employing the same nonsense logic he did. You're aiming low in the intellectual honesty department, I guess.

And then you moved the goalposts, expecting nobody to notice it, and lost your last shreds of respectability. Well done, really. Run back to your own blog and spout your nonsense over there.

Posted by: PW at July 7, 2004 at 07:57 AM

It's a silly number to suggest as being indicative of anything. I've gotten an instantaneous gas mileage of 99.9+ in my father in law's Audi A4, doing about 85 mph. I was going down hill, and I had the clutch in, but that hardly makes the A4 a ecofriendly car.

Posted by: Andrew at July 7, 2004 at 08:39 AM

I don't believe for a nano second that removing tax breaks for 4 X 4's would remove a major incentive for war against the despotic and rogue regime of Iraq. But if the US journo world actually believes it to be so, why would it drive "baubles", or "fashion accessories (that) are mowing down the people of Iraq, Bangladesh and the Sahel"??

And why can't this Monbiot spell "discernible" correctly if he is so correct, choosy and discerning? Is it a British thing or mere arrogant stoopidity?

Posted by: c at July 7, 2004 at 08:45 AM

To answer Tom K's question: the Hummer H1 weighs 10,300 pounds. However, when the editors of Moonbat Motoring drove it over the top of the black hole gravity anomaly in Area 51, it momentarily weighed 15,200 pounds.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at July 7, 2004 at 09:34 AM

"unless you've got a bike that seats your whole family plus the dog, and can simultaneously pull a 12,000lb horse trailer"

Hey TomK, the guy who wrote the article prefers bicycles because they manage to carry his daily supply of Granola bars just fine.

So clearly bicycles are the Best Choice for Everyone Else, QED.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at July 7, 2004 at 09:35 AM

And by the same logic as above, I must decry the recent laws we have in the US mandating ramps for public buildings, and certain kinds of commercial buildings (clinics, dentists, etc).

They are an egregious waste of precious raw natural resources.

Stairs work for me, can't see why we need wasteful ramps.

Maybe I should be a journalist like the yoyo from Harper's magazine.

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at July 7, 2004 at 09:39 AM

Silly capitalists! It's not about gas mileage, it's about attacking people who have the money to buy things that we don't want to buy, which therefore makes them STUPID AMERICANS.


Posted by: Sortelli at July 7, 2004 at 10:22 AM

> But Blair scorned the very notion that an Excursion could achieve 3.7 mpg when in fact it did.

That very same Excursion gets well over 40 mpg going the other way on that road. Yet, Lambert's reaction to the analogous statement would be somewhat different.

Anyone want to take a shot at predicting his explanation of the difference?

Posted by: Andy Freeman at July 7, 2004 at 11:57 AM

People that support SUV's are basically wastefuls stupid louts, kill them all. Conservatives use to believe in conserving, now they believe conspicious waste and pollution to make their empty, nasty egos feel good!

Posted by: Jakester at July 7, 2004 at 12:15 PM

Nice parody of a braindead greenie, Jakester...well done!

Posted by: PW at July 7, 2004 at 12:40 PM

I'd ban these trolls but you guys seem to be doing fine at reducing them into tiny, bite-sized troll niblets. But if you get bored with bores like Lambert, let me know!

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 7, 2004 at 01:47 PM

Bite-sized troll niblets? Yech.

Andy: I'll take a shot at what Lambert would say in his defense next: "You're stupid! Use google! Look, I'm right because you're stupid! Look, see this hair? See how finally I've split it? HAH!"

Posted by: Sortelli at July 7, 2004 at 02:36 PM

Troll Bits here! Get your Troll Bits here! Hot and Fresh! Accept no substitutes!

Posted by: Spiny Norman at July 7, 2004 at 03:09 PM

Okay, I was being bombastic in my first post, but now let's be reasonable. First off, even if you don't buy the global warming hype, SUV's simply cause more pollution by emitting more exhaust and consuming more oil, steel rubber, petrola and other stuff which causes pollution to make and distribute. Second, road wear is equal to the cube of the axle load. So twice the axle load means eight times the potholes and other nasty stuff. Third, since most of these rugged individualists live in the city or the burbs, their fattish vehicles hog more valuable road and parking spaces. Finally, the safety and environmental rules are less stringent based on the concept that only a few working country people use them. I've heard in Australia that the import duties are 1/2 SUV's, tell em that's right. I've lived in the country too and the people who really need them usually opt for the more practical Jeep Cherokee(not Grand), Subarus and Toyotas which aren't huge and wasteful. It is the Long Island jerkovs like Sean Hannity who come up to the 'Daks in their Cadillac Escalade and they can't get into 1/4 the places I used to get into with my FWD Escort and Sentra. I've driven through the worse winters with two wheel drives than hundreds of downstate twits get stranded in their Lincoln Navs on well maintained state highways. Most people who drive big SUV's are total losers who can't even change their tire or oil but know how to drive around in 65F weather with their climate control and DVD players on. Sorry, but I've worked for years as a mechanic and I call them as I see them. The bigger the SUV, the stupider the driver, they just aren't practical or environmental. America is fatso land cause we got tattoed jerks driving their GMC Suburbans to four fast food drive thrus a day!

Posted by: Jakester at July 7, 2004 at 04:22 PM

I have a question here: doesn't Australia use the Imperial 160 ounce gallon?

The US uses the US gallon, 128 fluid ounces, or about 0.83267 of an Imperial gallon. That ought to clarify things!

In real life the Excursion gets about 10 MPG in the stop and go traffic of the city, 14 on the highway, but this isn't a problem; the gas tank holds 44 gallons.

By the way, there is no "officially" about the mileage rating, the EPA doesn't even rate the capacity of light trucks.

Posted by: Jim at July 7, 2004 at 05:05 PM


we went metric sometimein 1970 we use evil european litres here.

Posted by: Just Another Bloody Lawyer at July 7, 2004 at 07:58 PM

The standard measurement here is L/100km, but most car buffs still talk in mpg.

Jakester: You've convinced me. You should be in charge of a new government department called "The Ministry Of Citizens Worth". There you will be able to dictate to the 300million citizens of America exactly which cars they are allowed to drive in different situations. After all, you're obviously much more intelligent than all of them, so the decision should be up to you. That's the very meaning of democracy!

Posted by: yobbo at July 7, 2004 at 09:30 PM

Jakester: I'm really disappointed, I actually thought you were joking, but once again the internet has taught me that there is a fine line between brilliant satire and FUCKING STUPIDITY.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 7, 2004 at 10:11 PM

Jim is sorta of right though. When we were Imperial, pre 1960s, we used the Imperial non-Us gallon.

Posted by: Quentin George at July 7, 2004 at 11:01 PM

Jakester: Sorry, but nobody cares about tire-bit "pollution". Nobody is going to ever care about it either.

As for exhaust, I submit that a nice modern SUV is cleaner than any passenger car from the 70s. Many modern SUVs meet LEV (low emission vehicle) standards, wheras plenty of older cars on the road are only capable of passing DEQ inspections because of age exemptions.

Petrola? Never heard of it. Petrol? Again, nobody cares, as long as the exhaust is clean. Got plenty of oil. Pre-emptive artificial scarcity is not ever going to be popular, either, no matter how good it makes granola-crunchers feel.

Lastly, as long as the SUV isn't wider than the lane (and they aren't on decent American streets, at least), they aren't hogging any extra "road space". They'e certainly no longer than a big sedan.

So, uh, nobody gives a crap about any of your complaints. I hope they at least make you have a little frisson of moral superiority, though.

(PS. A Jeep Cherokee isn't really any smaller than one of the smaller SUVs, like an Escape. Let alone a RAV4. But I guess "SUV" is so elastic that you can magically not include the little Toyotas or your favoured Jeep, when it suits you. Even though they are SUVs.

Also, should I win the lottery, I'm going to buy a CL600 and waste all the gas I can simply to piss you off, as fast as possible, using that giant V-12.)

Posted by: Sigivald at July 8, 2004 at 03:28 AM

Gee, the Keystone Kops flock to defend fair Tim Blair's honour, falling over each other with contradictory explanations for his silly claim that "Run any engine at max revs and youíll get the economy figures Monbiot cites". Yes, he claimed that a 900cc Fiat Uno would get the same economy figures as the 6.8l Excursion under the same conditions. We had Patrick denying Tim B ever said it. MattJ contradicted him by saying that he could get even worse consumption if he was spinning his wheels (something Tim B would seem to have much experience with). PW contradicted the Patrick and MattJ defences by asserting there was no need to defend Tim B at all.

What is funny is that if Monbiot had written something as silly as Tim B's claim about fuel consumption, or heck, his claim that Monbiot used thousands of gallons of jet fuel in a flight to Australia (was he the only one on the plane?), Tim's commentors would have been all over him.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 8, 2004 at 10:11 PM

Your piss weak Lambert. Did you or you not support Monbiot with your first comment? I tell you what put your money where you mouth is come to Adelaide and ill show how to get 3.7 miles per gallon or less out of my sons Laser, if I win you buy him a new block.

Posted by: Gary at July 8, 2004 at 11:45 PM


Its called diversity in opinions something you probably don't allow in your lecture room.

Posted by: Gary at July 8, 2004 at 11:49 PM

It's pretty sad that a professor of Computer Science can't tell the difference between "contradictory" explanations and alternatively applicable ones. Hint: It's possible for both (A => C) and (B => C) to be true, without A contradicting B.

I truly feel sorry for your students.

Posted by: PW at July 9, 2004 at 02:41 AM

PW, Two statements are contradictory if they can't both be true. It is not possible for Blair's claim that any car could get 3.7 mpg both to be true and not to have been made.

Gary, with your penchant for banning commentors you are hardly in a position to accuse me of not allowing dissent.

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 10, 2004 at 03:14 AM

Tim Lambert

Who have I banned for dissent? Its none of your business how I run my domain on the other hand it is my business how you run the lecture room.

You have neither the guts to take up my challenge or the professional integrity to un-qualifiedly say Monbiot and you are mistaken. So your trying the old switch to make people get fed up.

Posted by: Gary at July 10, 2004 at 09:16 AM

Don't be so precious Gary. Your words: "Ok Homer I just banned your pathetic ass."

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 10, 2004 at 02:17 PM

Prove it was for dissent Lambert.

Posted by: Gary at July 10, 2004 at 02:43 PM

Are you seriously trying to suggest that it was a coincidence that you banned him after he expressed an opinion you disagreed with? Seriously?

Posted by: Tim Lambert at July 10, 2004 at 09:55 PM