- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2002

The first of the truly mighty SUVs has fallen to the slings and arrows of political correctness. Ford Motor Co. let it slip July 31 that the Excursion at 19 feet and 3.5 tons the biggest SUV ever would likely be cancelled after the 2003 model year. It lasted just four years.

Reviled since its 1999 introduction as the "Ford Valdez," the Excursion was intended to one-up archrival Chevrolet and its Suburban, which, until then, was the largest SUV sold in the United States. The Excursion featured a 6.8 liter V-10 engine, could seat 10 persons and haul 10,000 pounds.

Socially irresponsible? The moan-and-groan chorus headquartered in New York City thought so, and did everything it could to smear the big Ford. But the Excursion was never a threat to the environment. Its big V-10 ran so cleanly, in fact, that the truck qualified under federal regulations as a Low Emissions Vehicle (LEV), producing a planet-friendly 43 percent less smog-forming effluvia than the law demanded. The Excursion was also designed to be 80 percent recyclable at the end of its life cycle.

Meanwhile, the same forces that succeeded in demonizing the Excursion (the very same forces, incidentally, that effectively outlawed large station wagons and family cars in the 1970s via federal fuel-economy standards which in turn led to the SUV boom as an unintended consequence) are beavering away at every other SUV. In California, Gov. Gray Davis just signed a new law that puts every SUV in the gunsights. The law categorizes carbon dioxide produced by internal combustion engines a "pollutant" subject to regulation beginning with 2009 model-year vehicles sold in California. Since the only way to reduce C02 output is by burning less fuel, the almost-certain result of all this will be a forced downsizing of all vehicles. This was exactly what happened in the 1970s, when CAFE standards were enacted, only then the pretext was "saving energy." That scam having failed, the straw man is now "saving the planet." But it is consumers and the economy, as always, who lose.



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