Hands off the Hummer: Does the king of SUVs really deserve such hatred?

It's the symbol of everything the eco-set detests. Sean O'Grady offers a case for the defence

A A A

I know what you're thinking. This car is an SUV. Worse, it's a foreign SUV, so, unlike a Land Rover or Honda CR-V you aren't even going to be protecting British jobs for British workers (copyright G Brown) when you buy one. Even worse, it's an American SUV and big, brash and blingy with it. Not only that, but it's a Hummer, a brand forever associated with images of army Humvees driving through the front doors of Iraqi shacks and President George W Bush's ill-starred foreign policy.

And it has a petrol engine – a big one. No sign of a hybrid drive or a stop-start mechanism ever gracing this baby. This Hummer is the pits, an evil symbol of all that's wrong with the automotive world, its drivers blithely killing the planet in the name ofsome silly fashion statement. Guilty, right?

Well, yes, that is broadly correct. The Hummer can't really put up much in its favour to counter those charges, as it isn't that much fun to drive and is tiring on the motorway. No concessions to aerodynamics, you see. However, like a Nazi war criminal at Nuremburg, and I'm afraid the average 4x4 driver must feel a little like that these days, it is entitled to a defence. So, gallantly, I shall do so.

First, the Hummer H3 is only obeying orders. Not much of a line, I know, but it can be adapted. Pushing the barriers of taste a little further, you might say that the Hummer is like the gun a terrorist might use to kill innocent bystanders. You'd put the terrorist on trial, not the gun. The gun is merely an inanimate machine; a human decides to use it. Ditto the Hummer. We – the car-buying public – are the people who have summoned this creature into existence. If we didn't want it, General Motors wouldn't make it. The Hummer, as a piece of intellectual property, doesn't do any harm. Only when we get behind the wheel to burn those fossil fuels does it become a real-world lump of planet-destroying metal. It follows our orders through its steering, brakes and accelerator. And some folk do need all-wheel drive and loads of power. So the Hummer is, in that sense, innocent.

Hmm, I think I can sense the jury shifting on their bottoms there. So let's move on to the next lineof defence. I need to call in expert witnesses and technical evidence from an American outfit named CNW Marketing. They found that the Jeep Wrangler is more environmentally friendly than the Toyota Prius, if you look at the environmental costs of the car and the trouble of disposing of it. A Jeep is simple to make, lasts longer than most cars, is easy to scrap and recycle, and its fuel consumption, whilst high, is not so outrageous as to outweigh those benefits. Just think about those 30- or 40-year-old Land Rovers you see wheezing round the countryside; actually a fairly green form of transport as they never need to be replaced.

Pay £26,495 for your H3 and you probably won't need to buy a new car again for 20 years. The Toyota Prius costs a lot in resources to develop, its battery packs are costly to make and dispose of, and not very green, and its fuel consumption isn't what it's cracked up to be. Taking all that into account, a Jeep, or a Hummer for that matter, is greener than a fancy hybrid.

Gosh, I think I'm making some inroads here. Now let's go for the emotions. Ladies and gentlemen of the jury; don't you consider that the world is still big enough and free enough for us to enjoy diversity? Very few of us will drive a Hummer, as it's a niche product. And it's taxed on that basis; so the buyer is putting something back in the way of the VAT and fuel duty he'll be incurring. The Government can invest the cash in wind farms or buses. A fair deal.

Let me allow you to retire and consider your verdict. I doubt I'll get an acquittal, but thank you for listening to the case of the defence.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
Jermain Defoe got loads of custard
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Helpdesk Team Leader / Manager

£45000 per annum + pension,medical: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable gl...

IT Systems Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

IT Project Manager

£35000 per annum + £5k bonus, car: Ashdown Group: A successful business that h...

IT Infrastructure Project Manager

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A large and well established business is look...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition
Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

Nick Clegg the movie

Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

Waxing lyrical

Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

Revealed (to the minute)

The precise time when impressionism was born
From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

Make the most of British tomatoes

The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes