Sunday, May 25, 2008

Technological Lament

I heard on the radio that an auto-maker is producing a hybrid SUV. Think about that.

Let's bring back station wagons. They held big families when I was kid, were not loaded with multi-media equipment, and would get decent gas mileage (at least better than a tank).


Tim Berglund said...

I'm pretty sure that's the role minivans are supposed to take. Mine does around 25 MPG, which is easily 60% better than a comparable SUV, and it seats more to boot. True, it lacks the panache SUVs are supposed to have, but there are some sacrifices I am heroically willing to make.

I doubt hybrid technology can save the SUV from $4/gal gas. If oil stays where it is, these vehicles will all but die. I trust you to pen their elegy on that day.

Jeff Burton said...

Hundreds of thousands of keys have been struck describing the curious reluctance of many Americans to purchase the station wagon of our era (the minivan as Tim says), in favor of wasteful and unnecessary status symbols. The great thing about a free(ish) market is that the price of gasoline will succeed in humbling where self-reflection and common sense might not.

Let me strike a positive note here by being grateful for the economy and utility of the minivan, especially for large families like mine.

Anonymous said...

The minivans also get about double the mileage of the mega-station wagons. I had two of the "boat wagons," a Ford and Chevy. With the tail-gate and rear seats down I could (and did) actually fit a boat in the Ford. Both of these vehicles could and frequently did fit 10 passengers and cost only $1500-3500 (used).

All this said, I would still take a "stripped down" mini-van over any of the 10 passenger boat wagons. Our next vehicle (thinking about the anticipated grandkids)may well be such a van.

Anonymous said...

Well taken point Jeff!Fortunately, for us, God's humbling, upon our souls, takes place through a variety of means.

The Scottish Reslers said...

Interesting comments. I think that Jeff hit the heart of the issue - status. If you are buying a car, any vehicle for status, then it needs to be repented of. Some people might be buying a Mini Van for status as well or purchasing one which is above their financial ability to pay. However, to suggest that a SUV is necessary a morally evil concept is a bit overstated. As well, to suggest that an owner of such a vehicle is in somewhat violation of God's law is a very weak argument. I admire Dr. Groothuis convictions and passions, and they cause me to do his desired end - that is to think biblically and theologically about why I do things (buying a SUV in this case).

My wife and I own a Honda Pilot which gets about 22-25 MPG in town. Our decision was based on many factors, none of which (hopefully not!) were status driven. A mini van was a possibility as well, but based on our decision making factors, they were ruled out in favor of an SUV.

We are also looking at getting a hybrid vehicle down the road. We both believe that it is biblical to think "green" about our lifestyle and are willing to spend a bit more to get a vehicle that will burn less fuel, and burn it cleaner.

Jim Pemberton said...

We were considering horses and buggies, but only half-seriously. We'd probably be fined for depositing fertilizer on the road surface.

We've loved our mini-vans. Even now, our current one at 20-25 mpg is proving less efficient than we would like. I agree with Dr. G though: they are much better than a tank. I was a tank commander in the Marines. An M1A1 takes about 7 gallons to start the engine and uses about 3 gallons per mile; not that much worse than a large SUV.

Tim Berglund said...


Up until about 60 seconds ago, I was content with my minivan. Now I want to drive an M1A1.

Thanks a lot.



Jim Pemberton said...

You're welcome, Tim.

Aside from the fact that they are very deadly machines (and consume huge amounts of fuel and require 4 hours of maintenance to every 1 hour of use), they would make great vehicles of some sort of extreme recreation. One of the things you do in driver training is take the thing airborne to experience the limits of the suspension technology they are equipped with. It's a rush to drive 70 tons off an embankment at 40-50 mph... with no wings.

They're also great for assuaging tailgaters. Some Army bases have allowed the tanks to drive on roads built for civilian vehicles. I've heard of the intense heat of the exhaust causing paint to peel off cars that ventured too close to the rear of an M1A1. Jet engines do things like that.

Yes, I remember those days with a warped sense of fondness.