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They're Big! They're Expensive! They're Catching On In Europe!

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:07 PM
Original message
They're Big! They're Expensive! They're Catching On In Europe!
ROME - "The Land Rover barreled around the narrow corner like a whale splashing into a swimming pool, parking, for lack of a better alternative, in the middle of the road. Needless to say, it was not making many friends. "I'm totally against those cars," said Giorgio Carpanese, a 48-year-old office worker, gesturing toward the offending vehicle, whose owner could be seen blithely disappearing into a fancy wicker-furniture store. "They're too big; they pollute; they're too expensive. And I think that it's only arrogant people who drive them."

S.U.V.'s, or soovs, as they are called here, are becoming increasingly popular on Rome's traffic-clogged streets, as they are across Europe. But even as more people are attracted by their heft and machismo, a countermovement is developing of those who believe that S.U.V.'s are not only pollution-spewing monstrosities, but also unwieldy symbols of American-style excess. "They're status markers because they're big and expensive and profligate with the earth's resources," said Steven Stradling, professor of transport psychology at the Transport Research Institute at Napier University in Edinburgh. "There's also a degree of anti-American feeling in Europe, and they are identified as American. They are a symbol of power without responsibility, and that's what we feel about you guys right now."

In the United States, S.U.V.'s are no longer novelties, but until recently they had not made much impact in Europe, the land of ancient, narrow streets and $5-a-gallon gas. Lately, however, S.U.V. sales have soared, touching off bitter complaints about American cultural imperialism and a flurry of proposed anti-S.U.V. legislation in several countries. So far, though, none of those proposals have passed, and, just as they did in America, S.U.V.'s are spreading steadily across the European landscape. European wariness of S.U.V.'s is expressed in different ways. In Rome, the city government has proposed charging S.U.V. owners triple the regular rate for permits to drive in the historic city center, a 1.8-square-mile area of narrow streets that is home to 22,000 people. With 50,000 cars and trucks, 300,000 motorbikes and some 600,000 to 700,000 pedestrians using the zone each day, the feeling goes, there is just no room for the unwieldy and intimidating S.U.V.'s.

The city's transportation commissioner, Mario Di Carlo, said that if he could, he would put up signs saying, "Please don't come here with these cars."

EDIT

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/international/europe/...
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mr_hat Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:10 PM
Response to Original message
1. Perfect for shuttling from Starbucks to McDonalds.
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benito Donating Member (772 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
2. They are a symbol of power without responsibility,
ouch.

That pretty much describes *.
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helnwhls Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:12 PM
Response to Original message
3. nothing says fuck everybody else and the planet
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 02:15 PM by helnwhls
like a range rover or suv. Seeing one on a city street makes me so mad I get ill. Some asshat up the street lives in a tiny 2 bedroom house with about 14 family members, but he parks his hemorrhoid of a hummer out front so everybody can see he is financial irresponsible. I want to beat him about the head with a bat every time I see a new pothole on my street.

EDIT: I was seeing so much red from even thinking about SUVs I forgot to thank you for the article, thanks.
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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #3
8. I have somebody like that around the corner
sans the 14 family members but still....

Send him this. I sent it to his house anonymously. Made me feel really good:

Untitled by Vanilla Bean

Your wallets fat, your car is rank
Fuck you and your H2!
Each burst of speed costs half a tank
Fuck you and your H2!
At each stop sign and traffic light
Regardless if its day or night
Theyll mutter asshole and theyre right
Fuck you and your H2!
You cant drive mud, you cant clear rocks
Fuck you and your H2!
With Chevy Tahoe frame and shocks
Fuck you and your H2!
What illness do you suffer from?
Are your aesthetic senses numb?
How does it feel to be so dumb?
Fuck you and your H2!
If I gave you what you deserve
Fuck you and your H2!
Id cut you off and make you swerve
Fuck you and your H2!
Id follow you across the land
Id top your gas tank off with sand
And flip the bird with my free hand
Fuck you and your H2!
Its true you are the Tax-break winner
Fuck you and your H2!
You spent it on roo-bars and Spinners
Fuck you and your H2!
Full fifty-grand you can omit,
But what remains to show for it?
A four-point-three-ton pile of shit.
Fuck you and your H2!

Despite my venomous complaint
Fuck you and your H2!
Ive got an atom of restraint
Fuck you and your H2!
I hope this point you havent missed
Your car selection makes me pissed

In spite of that I can resist
Fuck you and your H2!
For 3 or more: the carpool lane
Fuck you and your H2!
But what if you have half a brain?
Fuck you and your H2!
You solo drive each day to work
Thats why your friends all joke and smirk
Come Humm on THIS, you fucking jerk!
Fuck you and your H2!


Cher
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helnwhls Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:41 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Hee hee!
Thanks! As I am hitting print, I can hardly wait to stick this under his wiper!

;)
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
4. last week's Frontline featured a segment on Rapaille
He takes credit for the Huge, Luxury, SUV craze.

Knowing the enemy:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/persuader...
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Kellanved Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
5. well, yes
People with shaky self-esteem are a pretty international phenomenon. SUVs are popular since many years, but so far most models were military style vehicles, out of reach for most drivers and not meeting the luxury demands of "normal" middle-class families.

But by now most car makers offer SUVs, primarily intended for the US market (most real US SUVs do not meet EU regulations) , yet available in Europe as well. Anyway, SUVs are far less common than they are stateside, and the gas price and tax rules alone will prevent them from getting really popular. Not to mention the narrow streets found in many cities.


No, I find this far more scary than SUVs:
http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,1564,1391622,00.htm...
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NEOBuckeye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Great. Just what Germany (and the world) needs: Christian Nazis.
Haven't we been down this road already?
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pnutchuck Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:23 PM
Response to Original message
6. Not in Paris
I live in Paris, France and there are few to none of those cars here. Sure, there are SUV's, but none of the Land Rover size. They're all Peugot, or Honda-scaled down models of the SUV. Even when I travel outside of Paris into the countryside, I still rarely see them. Petrol is just too expensive. The Smart car is the urban vehicle of choice here. Here, we pay by the liter, and there are 3.84 liters in one gallon. The cost per liter is around 1.30 Euro. And for those not aware of the current exchange, that's about 1.69 dlls, making a gallon of gas cost roughly 6.48 dlls per gallon. SUV's just aren't feesable here. I've also traveled through Holland and didn't see many there. I did come across a few in London, but again, petrol costs along with parking limit them there as well.

I agree that they are problematic, and that American influence has increased their demand. We need to be working on ways to get rid of these vehicles everywhere. Unfortunately, we have that pesky little '48 OPEC agreement. Not that we have to be dependent on oil or anthing, we just can't break our contracts.....
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NJCher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:47 PM
Response to Original message
10. soovs in Europe
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 02:48 PM by NJCher
The observations from Europe were interesting. Breathe a sigh of relief if you think you'll escape the curse of these hideous vehicles. Before SUVs, guessing who was an asshole and who wasn't was, if not a challenge, at least not so obvious.

Interesting how it breaks out at about 50% of the population, somewhat like the Dem/Republican split.

Anyway, I would be severely disillusioned if they did catch on in Europe because it would smash my fantasy that there are some people with personal wealth, common sense and decent values somewhere.


Cher
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
11. I can't imagine driving one of those oversized hogs in Boston
let alone in the even older cities of Europe! My gawd, they take up the whole damn street. There is no way to park one of those suckers.

Things are a little different out west. I drive a pickup truck as much for self defense against all of what my 88 year old father calls "those fucking rolling billboards" on the road as it is to haul firewood and building materials.

Back home in Boston, though, I'd be looking into getting a Mini, not one of those behemoths written so eloquently about in Vanilla Bean's poem.

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NV Whino Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Nov-14-04 03:55 PM
Response to Original message
12. I came up with a thought today
Edited on Sun Nov-14-04 03:57 PM by NV Whino
Which may or may not be valid. Your insurance company requires you to list your mileage each year (or at least mine does). This helps determines the rates. What if, based on that mileage and computed at 25 mpg, each driver would be issued a certain number of gallons per year. You reach your limit, you walk.

It would take some number crunching (beyond my skills) to come up with an equitable formula, but I think this has possibilities.

edited for typos.
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Donkeyboy75 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Nov-15-04 05:03 AM
Response to Original message
13. I've seen two Hummers
on the narrow street I live on in Cork. It's possible for two small cars to pass each other, but a fucker in a Humvee backed up traffic for five minutes as others had to back up to accomodate him. :grr:
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