Big chunky cars

It would seem that big chunky cars are a symbol of luxury in automative design. Like that new big chunky Chrysler 300C that they keep advertising on SBS on Saturday nights — a snip at $54K for the base model — it might just beat the luxury car tax.

Chrysler 300CIt looks like a big fat capitalist’s car. There’s been one hanging about in my street recently each weekend, driven by a big fat real estate agent.

Something about it, especially the design of the big fat front, says “Feck you, little people, I’m from the big end of town”, and suggests no mercy for any pedestrians it might hit. (So far there’s no rating for it on How Safe Is Your Car*).

It also has the look of totally rejecting any hint of aerodynamics. “I don’t care if crude oil’s breaking record prices, I’m going to burn it like there’s no tomorrow.” I couldn’t actually find any fuel consumption figures on the Chrysler web site… which seems to suggest economy is not a selling feature. But the Green Vehicle Guide says it’s around 11-14 litres per kilometre 11-14 litres per 100 kilometres, or about 3 times a Toyota Prius, though no worse than a Ford Territory. And the diesel variants fare better.

I noticed on the news the other night it showed Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan driving up to Parliament House in a Prius. I wonder if he really believes in fighting climate change, or if it’s just for show.

*I can never remember if it’s My or Your. The TAC really should have also registered howsafeismycar as well.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

23 replies on “Big chunky cars”

Whether or not Wayne Swan is driving a Prius for show or for climate change, it is good for the environment.

I’d rather all the politicians or people with influence to drive a Prius for show than only a fe of them driving it for climate change. It at least shows a good message to the public.


I’ve admitted before that I’m a child of the ’40’s, so when I was growing up almost *every* large car looked like one of those woeful new Chryslers! Honestly! Those things have the closest I’ve seen recently to “instant ’50’s” styling! There are actually a couple of other makes heading in that direction, but their names escape me because “Chrysler” looms so large it blots them out!!!

And Alan hits the nail on the head. In fact it might be an idea to give the contract for government ministers’ cars to Toyota – but only if they supply each one with a Prius …

(And if they need somewhere to build more, there’s a big empty factory in Adelaide …)

Well if there’s going to be an environmental movement, there’s going to be an anti-environmental movement too…and unfortunately there’s plenty of people to form part of the latter as a backlash to the good stuff the former are trying to do.

Personally I think it could only be a good thing if the government would insist on a stringent benchmark for fuel efficiency…but the car companies would be screaming I’m sure!

Chrysler do make a diesel version of the 300C that gets around 8 litres/100km. Better than a commodore/falcon.
I’ll stick to my 45 year old bug. Mostly steel and very recyclable. Cheap to run as well. Although you can convert them to electric power quite cheaply.

Don’t get me started on a Prius

That’s a car that uses no more fuel than a Ford Falcon – certainly less than a V8 Falcon or Commodore – and happens to look rather attractive to a lot of people (for the same reason that other people hate it – it’s different from most cars). And it’s a bargain for what you get in it. The V8 version reverts to four cylinder operation most of the time. The diesel version is powerful and efficient and would be cheaper to run than my Scenic. It scores well for frontal collisions and moderately for side impacts – not as good as a new Mondeo or Megane, but better than a standard Falcon or Commodore. The pedestrian rating is likely to be middle of the range when it is eventually tested – probably no worse than the Prius, which scores two stars out of four for pedestrian protection.

I’d love one.

What do we all think of the news that Holden will be marketing a Hybrid Commodore in 2010? At last someone in the company is finally seeing sense. Frankly the need to give ALL their vehicles an Hybrid Option.

I read it the same as PC, ’11-14 litres per kilometre’??? Should that be 11-14km per L? Or 11-14 L / 100 km. Otherwise I hope it comes with a several hundred L fuel tank for a drive around town.

I know what you mean about the look of those Chryslers – very macho, New York sort of aura about them. A sort of male genital extension, perhaps?

Looks like they are carved from a block of solid steel. Maybe they are?

Must take a certain sort of personality to go out and choose one of those. Probably the kind of person I would tend to avoid at a cocktail party – or perhaps when riding my bike on the same stretch of road. They’re hardly likely to be ‘environmentally aware’ in any case, no matter what else it may indicate about that person.

New gas guzzling cars should come with a global health warning and a huge tax hit, like cigarettes.

I noticed the RACV recently did a ‘Green Car’ article in its magazine. Basically said that cars were not really a significant part of the greenhouse problem ‘look at the statistics we’ve got to show you’. But that if you though it was still ness, here is a review of green cars for you. I guess they would say that.

I think I should join that ‘auto-tune’ vehicle recovery service that Daniel recommended recently and ditch the rev headed RACV.

Breathtaking assumptions and generalisations abound. “Must take a certain sort of personality to go out and choose one of those”? Spare me.

Yeah – I think they’re sonmething to do with insecurity, much like 4WDs. Coming from an inner suburb, I can’t wait to start seeing them with big dents… they’re too big for most driveways and parking spots (just hope they don’t run into me and my gorgeous little mini!).

I think they are an interesting design and applaud Chrysler for thinking outside the square. The 300 series has an facinating history and were always ahead of their time and full of innovation like the latest disabling cylinders to save fuel.
The fuel economy is about average for a medium sized car and pretty good for a large car.

Phillip, it’s true. People like that have an ego problem generally. There is nothing remotely healthy about being an ostentatious, showy, egotistic and arrogant driver of one of these obese coffins.
However, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Greed and uncouthness, on the other hand, are in the eye of the mental health clinics here and abroad.

Reuben van Bemmel, you are kidding yourself. If that photo had shown a Holden Commodore or Statesman, there would have been no comments about showmanship or masculinity. That’s because the Holden would have looked the same as all the other big cars. The fact that the Chrysler is a unique design causes people such as you to overlook the fact that it’s no bigger than any other large sedan, and it uses less fuel than a Fairlane. Certainly less than a Territory.

I’d very much doubt that production of this car has ceased. I see more of them than their Holden and Ford equivalents and they are common in other countries too.

What you’re demonstrating is plain snobbery.

On fuel consumption – the 300 or other ‘medium sized’ 6/V6 2.5L+ models mentioned here – we are comparing cars which are some of the most fuel hungry in the world. So that fact that one is average amongst them does not make it very good. :-)

I read the other day (but cannot now find the article) that, on average, new cars sold here in Aus emit around 50% more CO2/per km than the average for Europe and in that we are on par with the US.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) made this promise in 2003.

“The Australian car industry has announced an ambitious new target for reduced fuel consumption of new passenger cars.

The industry has committed to a target of reducing fuel consumption of new passenger cars to 6.8 litres per 100 kilometres by 2010″ said FCAI Chief Executive, Mr Peter Sturrock.

This is a very challenging target which provides a clear demonstration of the commitment of the Australian car industry to ensuring that it plays its part in contributing to improved environmental outcomes”.

Recent update is here. Read the comments . . .

On improving technologies – in 2002 – a BTRE report concluded:
“The desire of an increasingly affluent population for vehicle characteristics that increase fuel
consumption (power, weight, accessories, 4WD), has meant that potential reductions in fuel
consumption made possible by technological advances have not been fully realised.
This is a world-wide trend in the automobile sector, and it cautions against undue optimism about
realising reductions in fuel use and emissions stemming from technological change.”

No I’m not kidding myself. Big cars, like the aforementioned, require small brains to drive them. Workers should use vans or utes, farmers should use 4WDs, families should use Taragos and the rest of us can do with Corollas. People should focus on efficiency, not least because it’s better for the environment but also because of economic issues revolving around peak oil.

Just because a car is common doesn’t make it good. Hell, smoking is common and that doesn’t make it healthy. Anything less would be specious.

It’s sanctimonious to say I’m snobby…but then again, with an ego like yours, you can be forgiven.

This is a popular car in the USA but it is not available in a Diesel version. It and the Dodge charger not of the best quality according to Consumer Reports Magazine, a consumer testing magazine in the USA. They do cost much less in the US than here in Australia. For the price here you can buy a much better car than this model.

Sounds like a good time to drop the wonderful Hummer into the conversation . . . I suppose it’s the SUV equiv of the Chrysler 300 ‘town car’.

I don’t agree with the notion that big cars = evil.

Yes they are not as environmentally friendly as other cars, but it is strictly a personal preference.

For example there is nothing wrong with buying a washing machine with a 3 star rating. Yes it is less efficient and use (waste) more water/electricity, but that doesn’t mean it’s “wrong”.

If you own a “big car”, you should cope it fair and square when people say it’s not environmentally friendly, but nothing more.


Alan: I think there are some environmentalists who would argue that willingly buying inefficient (big) cars in an age of oil scarcity and global warming is “evil” — or at least thoughtless.

Not everybody can afford to buy an efficient washing machine, which generally involves spending more money. Buying a bigger (especially luxury car) would normally mean more expense, so it’s a deliberate decision to make.

Ah well… oil prices will push people towards better efficiency.

Photo: I’m told the FCAI pledge on passenger cars did not relate to SUVs…

I don’t think it’s about being ‘wrong’ or being ‘right’.

I believe that – in light of the growing concerns about our environment – decisions about how you consume, how you use energy and natural resources, are moral issues and doing ‘the right thing’ is about being aware of your own impacts and minimising them. In that sense it’s about taking personal responsibility.

What’s important about this notion is that our decisions impact others, somewhat indirectly, but eventually so. If my neigbour decides to buy inefficient washing machines, he’s using a share of may water in the dam, too. Uses electricity inefficiently, he’s polluting my air with more carbon dioxide and other nasties. Buys a gas guzzling car and he’s using more fuel than is ness and is increasing the pollution of the air again.

If we all lived in our own little bubbles, then sure, let everyone do what they want, since their actions would impact on the wider community. But since we share this earth, we have a responsibility to share the commons with regard to everyone’s needs. The most basic of which must include survival of future generations and out health.

Think of why smoking has been banned in public places – primarily because of the effects of secondary smoke on non smokers. Nothing (much) to do with what smokers are doing to their own lungs. Eventually, similar solutions will be sought for other envirnmental challenges which we now face.

Heck – it’s all about waste (at least at this stage). When was it ever a good idea to waste valuable resources? It only became possible when we all became more affluent and the cost of mining those resources was reduced to levels which did not include the environmental cost of using them.

Apologies for the lecture/rant. :-)

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