Another Luddite Blunder

HeraldSun.com.au

We love our flaming Utes
Hotted-up fuel-guzzling,
V8 powered cars — invented here —
Anachronisms in a future world.
Where bloody minded humankind burns the globe
Turns out it’s fossil fuel
The ugly transgressor
Whilst manufacturers electrify cars novelle
Operate charge-points — not common fuel servos.
Yet another modern Luddite blunder.

Every country son and daughter lusts for their first two door V8 so as to attend a BNS ball.  A mythical rural scene of bacchanalian debauchery manufactured in the minds of their city cousins.  When the isolated, shy individual in fact arrives,  gaucheness personified alights unless egged on by a peer pressure group.  At least it was until the local motor industry gave in to the economic reality the government would no longer prop-up our lazy car industry. They closed their plants and a V8 utility (ute) vehicle is no longer constructed here. 

The Ute survived in the country because of its usefulness. Once the domain of two main constructors it pootled around the farm in many guises. The first, according to my friend Kevin Norbury (1),  was an invention of a Geelong farmer. He cut his new car in half and had a luggage tray built over the rear wheels so he could carry a sick lamb or a bale of hay when inspecting his stock. 

A new vehicle fills the suburbs. Too big to be a useful farm appliance, it sports four doors and a smaller luggage tray. The SUV is the car of choice of home builders (tradies) and it too is a ute. The car is ubiquitous in suburban shopping centres in parks designed for shopping trollies.

The tarmac becomes so hot in most of these the centre owners have built sun protection.

While business accepts our world has changed, our government has not. Perhaps the reason for this is the fossil fuels industries are major donors to the government. Another reason is the support the government gets from the media. (Media rules were changed some years ago.  Over those years consolidation has taken place, so that in some states there is no longer a choice in the news supplier. To put it more succinctly, if the Murdoch press says,” This is how things are.” There is no alternative view put to most folk to add any balance.)

Artificial global warming has reached a point of danger.  No informed individual wants to test the predictions of climate scientists to discover the scientists were right and they were wrong except governments beholden to fossil fuel purveyors. The first global change to reduce carbon emissions was an agreement in Kyoto to cut them.  Here in Australia we put a levy on carbon and asked producers to improve or pay to produce it. The levy was so successful carbon emissions fell. At least they did for a while until opposition leader Tony Abbott called it a carbon tax. At the next election, he became PM and carbon usage shot up. It continued to do so until 2019, when we had another election.   At that election a new PM, Scott Morrison, demonised the Labor party by claiming, “The Labor Party wants to take away Tradies’ utes.”  They returned him on the promise to do nothing about carbon emissions. Or that was his claim. So the country does nothing. 

However, manufacturers are in a scramble to catch up to China, the largest maker of electric vehicles. Observers are warning if Australia does not change its rules on carbon emissions, they destine us to become the dumping ground for all the world’s most polluting cars. A thirsty internal combustion engine does not make a ute a ute. A car becomes one when it has an external carriage area.

A new industry is not without error and a story yesterday caught my eye, The tale is about the difficulty new adapters had charging their electric car on English motorways. (4) This story suggests there is some working out to do until every car is fitted with a universal power connection.


(1). Kevin Norbury is a Walkley winning journalist who used to write the “Rear End” column in The Age on motoring history.

(2) Bill Shorten is killing of the ute, according to critics. With the election around the corner, fears have been raised that electric cars could be about to kill off the iconic Aussie ute. 10/April/2019

new.com.au

(3) The escalating risk to Australian’s vehicle fleet. Australia applies the brakes again and again. By Cameron Rimington 23 November 2020 online Pearls and Irritations.

(4) Why did it take nine hours to go 120 miles in our new electric Porsche? A Kent couple love their new car — but their experience suggests there are problems with the charging network. The Guardian 29 November 2020.

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