Hybrid SUV - An Oxymoron? | The Thinking Blog ~ Knowledge Grows When Shared
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04 November 2007

Hybrid SUV - An Oxymoron?

Hybrid SUVA hybrid vehicle typically realises greater fuel economy than conventional gasoline or diesel powered engine vehicles, such that fewer air pollution emissions are generated per kilometre traveled. Noise emissions are also reduced, particularly at idling and low operating speeds. On the other hand, SUVs have been criticized for many reasons, including their fuel economy, pollution record and size. Put them together and you get..?

I understand that SUVs are often used in places such as the Australian Outback, Africa, the Middle East, Alaska, Northern Canada, South America and most of Asia, which have limited paved roads and require the vehicle to have all-terrain handling - but driving SUVs in a city? That is reason why majority of the SUV producers today take into account that most SUV owners never go offroad. As such, SUVs now have lower ground clearance and suspension designed primarily for paved road usage. So people are drawn to them for their "utilitarian" image - their large cabins, higher ride height, and perceived safety.

Peel P50Now the benefits of hybrids are stunning but combining SUVs with hybrid-electric technology is beyond me (more details here but nevermind). Is that the direction in which we should go? I think what we really need to do is bring back the Peel from 1962, dubbed the World's smallest production car, and re-create it with carbon fiber materials, a makeover, and a modern engine. With a weight of only 59 kg (132 lb) the car runs 40 km to the litre (2.5 l/100 km or 100 miles per gallon) - almost cheaper than walking. At just 134 cm (53 in) long and 99 cm (39 in) wide, about eight peels can fit into an ordinary parking space. What's even more interesting is that this is a car from the 60s!

Size Comparison

Here is a segment from the popular BBC motoring programme Top Gear, during which the 6ft 5in (196cm) tall presenter Jeremy Clarkson reviews the car and drives it through central London to work.

This remarkablely innovative car of brilliant design comes from the Peel resident engineer and inventor, Cyril Cannell. You can find more pictures of the Peel P50 and Trident here and here. If all cars in a city were this small (consider a modern remake with hybrid or electric engine), then we wouldn't have any safety problems or pollution problems or parking space problems!

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