Time to end our addiction to oil

New Zealand must reduce the number of cars coming into the country as a first step to easing our addiction to fossil fuels, says a leading car expert.Clive Matthew-Wilson, editor of the car buyer’s Dog & Lemon Guide, says: “Oil prices are hitting record highs and yet New Zealand is busy importing cars and building roads. That’s a bit like trying to put out a fire with petrol.”

“Two of the biggest drains on the national purse are cars and oil, yet current Treasury strategies are certain to increase our addiction to oil, not ease it.”

Matthew-Wilson said bluntly: “Most of Treasury’s plans assume a country without real public transport, where millions of motorists drive to and from work every day. In a world of oil shortages and overcrowding, this is not only impractical, but irresponsible.”

“In most cases New Zealand doesn’t need more roads, it needs less cars using those roads.”

Transit New Zealand is just as bad, says Matthew-Wilson.

“Transit spends much of its time warning of the dire consequences of not having enough motorways, yet they rarely take the obvious step of simply encouraging motorists to leave their cars at home.”

“Most Auckland motorways don’t even have carpool lanes yet, which are highly effective and cost peanuts.”

“Overseas research has consistently shown that when you build new roads you simply encourage more vehicles to use the new roads, so nothing really changes. We need to rethink the whole process of transportation instead of trying to patch a sinking ship.”

“Our country needs an integrated transport solution that offers safe motoring in places where cars are needed, together with safe and quick public transport where there are simply too many cars sharing the roads.”

Matthew-Wilson also took a swing at alternative fuels, saying most alternative fuel strategies were merely “rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic.”

“Most alternative fuels like hydrogen, ethanol and biodiesel use more energy to create than they give out. They are essentially fantasy technology that might work some time in the future but certainly not anytime soon.”

Matthew-Wilson also rejected hybrids as an alternative to ordinary cars.

“If you replaced every vehicle on the Auckland motorways with a hybrid you’d still have gridlock. Hybrid vehicles offer a feelgood factor to the daily commute, but that’s about all.”

“Before you assume that a hybrid is some enviromental miracle, you should check out the facts: most small modern cars are pretty fuel-efficient and pollute far less than their ancestors. Hybrids are better, but not much, and certainly not enough to make the extra cost worth it.”

“It’s clear that the planners in Treasury are living in a 1950s dream world of urban sprawl where people drive along endless motorways to and from endless suburbs. At a time of record fuel prices this is an unsustainable way of running cities, and current strategies just put off the day when we have to deal with it.”

Release ends. For further information please contact Clive Matthew-Wilson on 09 378 1476.

Useful link: The Day of Reckoning