Spoof of SUVs
Crushed Under the Weight
of America's Newest Craze: The SUV
The SUV is one of the most popular vehicles
ever. It has become a common figure on America's roads, from downtown
Manhattan to the winding highways of the Rocky Mountains. Americans
purchased 3.36 million of them last year. What is so incredible about this
figure is that
SUVs are notoriously unsafe
they cost more than other vehicles, and they pollute more than other
In rollover tests SUVs are shockingly very
poor scorers. Some reports have suggested that year 2000 SUVs would
rollover in at least 20% of accidents they're involved in. In a case from
1997, a woman's tire blew out while driving on the freeway. Her SUV, a
Ford Explorer, rolled four times. In the crash,
the woman's leg
, the tibia shattered into a hundred pieces. She had to have a
knee replacement. She has four plates in her arm held in place by screws
that she can feel through the skin. Sounds pretty bad, yes? In all
actuality, she is lucky to be alive.
The NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration, estimates that approximately
9,700 Americans will
die this year
as a result of SUV and truck rollovers.
Rollover crashes accounted for 53 percent of all SUV occupant deaths in
single vehicle crashes in 1996.
Ford's Explorer (prior to 2001) was built on the base
of the Ford pick-up truck. This meant that a taller and heavier body would
be riding on a frame designed for a pick-up truck. The result was that the
center of gravity for the Explorer is higher than that of a Ford pick-up
truck. This caused the Explorer to be top heavy and
rolling over at high speeds
. This propensity was kept from the
public. An internal Ford safety report stated that the best course of
action would be to widen the wheelbase and improve the suspension system.
Instead, Ford recommended to car dealers that Explorer tires be under
inflated to more stability. We'll get to the resulting problems with this
happens when an SUV is in a collision with a smaller vehicle? SUVs crush
smaller-sized cars. That is understandable with the huge size difference
between SUVs and smaller vehicles. Think about the Ford Excursion. It is
19 feet long and weighs 8500 pounds
Ford Focus hatchback weights 2500 lbs. and is 14 feet in length. Imagine
what is going to happen when an Excursion hits a Focus.
Not only is the size and
weight of the SUVs a danger; the design also makes for considerably
higher damage and fatality
than in comparably sized sedans,
like the Ford Taurus. SUVs are designed to be eight inches higher than a
car. They also have a more rigid frame that consists of two steel rails.
The front end of the SUV, being 8 inches higher and; in the case of the
Ford Explorer; curved upwards; acts like a snowboard on a mogul. The SUV
hits a car and is propelled up and onto it, crushing the occupants of the
car. But, the occupants of the SUV are going to come out pretty okay. That
is, unless they tip over which could be the case according to tests by the
Excursion's size will undoubtedly be a serious health hazard for the
occupants of smaller vehicles (meaning 99% of the cars on the road), Ford
added a front beam and a rear tow hitch to prevent other vehicles from
sliding under the Excursion. Being the largest SUV, the
could be extremely dangerous
in an accident with a smaller
vehicle since almost every vehicle on the road is smaller.
Alongside these issues is
the fact that Ford and Firestone companies withheld information about
their products that could have saved lives. From the inception of the
Explorer in the mid-'80s to the now widely publicized court cases, Ford
and Firestone have systematically tried to get around a manufacturing
problem that has ultimately lead to the
deaths at least 150
Consumers simply pay more for an SUV than other
vehicles. They pay more because SUVs are in vogue right now. They pay more
because SUVs are more expensive to repair. They pay more because SUVs are
fuel inefficient. They pay more because insurance recognizes
to other vehicles.
The profits from an SUV sale range from $12,000 to
$20,000. A normal car is more like $3,000. Why the huge difference? It
probably has something to do with Americans and their egos. The more
powerful and masculine looking your car, the more powerful and masculine
the driver looks. At least that's what the driver may think. What about
the fact that SUVs are less fuel efficient and potentially deadly to
others? Should we tack on the titles of "less efficient" and
" to "powerful" and "masculine"? How about "stupid"? The
cost of repairs to an SUV far exceeds those of other cars.
paying $5,000 - $6,000 for a new bumper.
In a study by the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety some SUVs could incur very expensive damage
in collisions at "walking speed" or five miles per hour. Example of the
results: The Jeep Grand Cherokee cost $5,107 to repair. The Mitsubishi
Montero Sport cost $6,282 to fix. The best SUV tested, the Mercedes ML
320, came in at just under $3,000 to repair. Repair costs for power
steering, the alternator, fuel injection, starter, and other car parts for
SUVs are also more expensive than in smaller cars. The reason for this
greater expense is that SUVs do not have the same federal standards that
smaller passenger cars, which are required to have reinforced bumpers,
have. This means that the bumpers are made with less expensive materials
and just crumble when hit, causing extensive damage.
have to endure an added burden because of the increase in SUV sales. A tax
called the "gas guzzler tax" adds higher taxes to less fuel-efficient
vehicles. But SUVs pay no tax. The tax loophole means that automakers get
free reign to build and market inefficient, polluting
. Does that mean that the automakers pass that savings onto the
buyer? No. The automakers keep that savings for themselves. The estimated
loss of tax revenue is $1.1 billion.
THE ENVIRONMENT & GAS
average new car gets about 28 miles per gallon on the highway. The average
SUV gets 20 mpg. Some models get only 12-16 mpg. This means you will spend
much more money on gasoline. Do you really want to be supporting the oil
industry any more than you already are? Probably not considering the
hazards the oil industry poses to human and animal life - think Exxon
Valdez or the Tosco refinery explosion in Martinez, CA that
injured 46. Since 1990, the inefficiency of light trucks (including SUVs)
has led to Americans wasting an extra 70 billion gallons of
Under federal law SUVs are allowed to emit
higher levels of toxic and noxious pollution
- carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and
nitrogen oxides. Sport utility vehicles can spew 30 percent more carbon
monoxide and hydrocarbons and 75 percent more nitrogen oxides than
According to Ford Motor Co., 87 percent of Ford
Explorer owners have never taken their vehicle off-road. Why do you need
to have an off-road vehicle if you are never going to use that feature?
This feature adds unnecessary weight to SUVs. More weight means more fuel
used. Some drivers might retort that having the 4-wheel drive provides
more safety in
bad weather conditions
such as snow or heavy rain. That is
untrue. The 4-wheel drive feature simply makes it easier to get out of
snow, sand or mud when the vehicle is stuck. It does not add to the
driver's ability to negotiate through hazardous road conditions.
On the flip
side, Ford is moving towards a better environmental record with its SUVs.
They are pushing to be ahead of schedule to met new emissions limits, and
in the 2004 models of their light SUV, the Escape. They also ended their support of the Global Climate Coalition, "a Washington based group that argues there is insufficient scientific evidence to confirm serious warming of the earth due to so-called 'greenhouse' gases".
FORD AND FIRESTONE Links to Other Dispatches
problems SUVs face is another, more ominous one: tire separation.
Over 150 Americans have died
in this occurrence. What happens is that the tire glue fails to keep the tire together. Having the Firestone tires under inflated to compensate for the rollover propensity of the Explore makes the occurrence even more likely. The tire peels like a banana, the car jerks suddenly with the new imbalance and rolls. Did either company know about this prior to the court cases in the late '90s? Yes, they did.
In a memo dated February 9, 1989 Ford was informed that tire separation occurred when the tire was under inflated. Firestone conducted its own tests and declared the tires to be fine.
So what happened? As more and more cases from Saudi
Arabia and Venezuela (two of the Explorer's big buyers) came in regarding
tire failures and passenger fatalities, Ford and Firestone began to see
that the problem was getting out of control. But they kept all away from
the American car buyers. They secretly replaced the tires but did nothing
in the U.S. They waited until
public outcry in the form of
before they acknowledged any possible wrongdoing.
HOW TO STOP THEM
As you can see, the SUV industry is handing us a very
pretty lemon. They are appealing to our egos and our vanity. They are
expecting us buy
these horrible things
because of their incredibly attractive advertisement campaigns.
--Send a message to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency telling them not to back down on new rules to clean up sport utility vehicles.
Environmental Protection Agency
Ariel Rios Building
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20460
--Send a message to the head
of Ford telling them that you want zero-emission cars, NOW! As a young
adult, you will most likely be purchasing cars during your long life. You
. The technology is there. Make the cars and we will buy
them. This is about showing there is a demand.
Ford Motor Company
Customer Relationship Center
P.O. Box 6248
Dearborn, MI 48126
--Buy a hybrid car:
Check out Hybrid cars at:
How Stuff Works Website
The Story of the Hybrid Car
The Official Site of Hybrid Cars
The most important thing is
to be informed. Don't just let people sell you something because they make
it look good in a multi-million dollar ad campaign. Stand up for your
right to choose for yourself. Get all the facts and Make A Difference.
Stephanie - Watch as the largest oil company crumbles at my feet!
Daphne - We've got borax. We've got rat feces. We've got America's meat factories
Stephen - All that and more. Say hello to Trekker Stephen!
Jennifer - A suitcase full of travels! It's Trekker Jennifer
Rebecca - How would you like that community? Sunny-side up?
Stephen - When Americans could live together in solidarity
Stephanie - Triangle Shirt Factory #9 going up in flames!