Something has survived
February 2, 2005 11:49 AM   Subscribe

Esuvee. From USA Today: A coalition of state attorneys general is launching an ad campaign Monday aimed at SUV safety and funded with money received from Ford Motor to settle a lawsuit that said its ads were deceptive. The campaign shows people riding on a large, hairy fictitious animal, dubbed the Esuvee, to illustrate the point that drivers need to treat SUVs differently than cars. SUVs sit higher than cars, making them more prone to roll over in an accident.
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posted by Hands of Manos (41 comments total)
Esuvees are cute. i want one.
posted by gnutron at 11:57 AM on February 2, 2005

That's a well designed PSA, but an odd way of getting a point across.
posted by shoepal at 11:59 AM on February 2, 2005

I saw the commercial last night and was like "WTF? is this about". Didn't seem to indicate a restraining of the SUV cult at all, it seemed to celebrate it and show that you've gotta be an S.T.U.D. to wrangle an SUV.

Or, what odinsdream said. Damn I agree with you alot, OD!
posted by fenriq at 12:00 PM on February 2, 2005

I doubt that people who buy vehicles designed to convey aggression and dominance are going to change their antisocial behavior based a fictitious furry animal.
posted by goethean at 12:01 PM on February 2, 2005

Be warned - esuvees tend to drink more than their share, and are therefore impractical to own unless you have a real need for their very limited advantages.
posted by QuietDesperation at 12:02 PM on February 2, 2005

Almost all of the points they mention in the Flash animation on the website could reasonably be applied to ALL driving situations, not just those involving a SUV.
posted by boymilo at 12:04 PM on February 2, 2005

It looks like a Bantha from Star Wars.
posted by Frank Grimes at 12:06 PM on February 2, 2005

Should PSAs be available only in Flash?
posted by effwerd at 12:12 PM on February 2, 2005

Adults came up with this? Reminds me of the Canadian anti-smoking ads from ten years back where a guy doused a Porche with gasoline and set it on fire to illustrate, I guess, how much money you spend on smokes. The exploding car was so cool it made me want to smoke.
posted by The Card Cheat at 12:16 PM on February 2, 2005

I don't know what your talking about. Everyone knows a SUV is safer than a car. /sarcasm
posted by jsares at 12:17 PM on February 2, 2005

My seventh-grade social studies textbook had a section that used exactly this device-- a faux-anthropological essay on the "asu" tribe's worship of "the sacred rac" (a big, dangerous, tempermental animal used for transportation that "villages" were designed around, and who were the object of a maturity ceremony when asu teens reached 16). As 1 13-year-old, I thought it was pretty heavy-handed, and I guess I think this is, too.
posted by COBRA! at 12:20 PM on February 2, 2005

I still prefer Bob the Angry Flower's Monster Car to the esuvee. More tentacles, for one thing.
posted by scruss at 12:34 PM on February 2, 2005

SUV + safety reminds me of this article...Big and Bad: How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety.

[full disclosure: I commute to work on a throne carried by orhpans.]
posted by Loser at 12:42 PM on February 2, 2005

"You should avoid panic-like steering..."

Thank god I don't drive an SUV. I can't wait to panic-steer my way home from work.

So...what boymilo said. Why isn't one of the clever-yet-impossible-to-read animated Esuvee chapters called "Avoid hitting stuff."
posted by tpl1212 at 12:43 PM on February 2, 2005

Kudos on the correct plural attorneys general.

Not all SUVs have high rollover risk. Maybe they all do so more than regular cars because of the higher center of gravity, but doesn't it depend on the wheelbase? And, discounting that, they are safer than cars...just not for the other cars they hit.

But that argument against them has never been that persuasive to me because in terms of mass, it's relative and the problem is the mismatch—which, by the way, is a hundred times worse with motorcycles. Should all cars weigh as little as motorcycles? Or should cars be outlawed? Or motorcycles outlawed? Seems to me this is an inherent problem.

However, the bumper discrepancy is, I think, a very valid objection. There's a variety of things that the manufacturers could do to make them safer for other vehicles in a collision.

Somone in another SUV thread hypothesized that unless someone was driving on the tundra of the north slope of Alaska, they don't need an SUV. That's a huge overstatement. I am no more a fan of egregious suburban SUV ownership than anyone else (although they are functional with regard to carrying capacity for families and wouldn't the same objections apply to, for example, vans?), but there are areas where ownership is more justified.

In my case, being a native of northern New Mexico, I've grown up with regular fishing trips up to high mountain lakes (or even just regular mountain lakes with incredibly muddy roads) and all my dad's family has had 4WD vehicles, in the older days, trucks. When I bought an SUV that I had specially been looking for—a 1995 Ford Bronco with a 5.8 V8 Eddie Bauer package—I loved it and finally felt like a "real" Ellis. Granted, I was in Austin and I didn't need it in that environment. But I fully expected to be driving it here to NM and using it as it ought to be used. And, by the way, I like the old, big Bronco because, in my mind, it's a real SUV and not a soccer-mom suburban SUV.

So, the very strong anti-SUV rhetoric on the left has always rubbed me the wrong way. I agree with some of it, but it seems to me that the subcultural resentment against them is much larger than the specific arguments justify. The resentment is, I think, a coalescence of a larger group of related complaints with SUVs being the most convenient (and now conventional) target.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 12:54 PM on February 2, 2005

I don't see how telling people "don't panic steer" is going to change anything. This seems like such a lawyer thing - tell people to not do it so your ass is covered.

People roll SUVs because they are rollable. Nothing short of a week long sport driving course is going to change people's split second reactions to startling events - rock, deer, cars in their way.

Let the gas prices rise, that'll take care of the problem...
posted by anthill at 1:16 PM on February 2, 2005

Ethereal Bligh, the rollover risk isn't the only problem. SUV's also have worse handling and braking, increasing the likelihood of a crash, and they aren't necessarily safer in a crash. Modern car frames have all kinds of crash safety features built into them to make them safe (crumple zones, etc.) Truck frames don't. SUV's use truck frames.

SUV's have two advantages - 1) They're taller, increasing the field of view. (Unfortunately, this is a disadvantage for the vehicles all around it, as it lessens their field of view. So there's an increase in crash risk to offset the decrease.) 2) They have more mass. This is, by the laws of physics, an advantage if you get into a crash with a smaller vehicle.

But offsetting both of those is the fact that your SUV is basically a metal box screwed onto a truck bed, lacking all the safety features decades of engineering has given to passenger vehicles. I'll stick with little cars.
posted by kyrademon at 1:27 PM on February 2, 2005

Is there a reason SUV's don't have roll cages? The SUVs I grew up with in the 70s and 80s, usually had a rollbar under the ceiling. Most of the new models I see people drive, are basically just oversized cars. Of course the size of vehicles like Suburbans and Navigators means they probably couldn't make a rollcage strong enough to support the mass of the vehicle.
posted by inthe80s at 1:36 PM on February 2, 2005

Another aspect of SUV's is that the sit the driver up higher and that means they have a greater tendency to go faster because they're more removed from the road.

You know how 40 mph in a go-kart feels like 60? It works the other way for the further you get. SUV drivers tend to go faster because they have less of a sense of the speed they're travelling at.

Combine that with higher bumpers, higher mass and that equals an extremely dangerous situation.

And Ethereal Bligh, no taking away my motorcycles. Take away the SUVs, we were here first!

On Preview: inthe80s, they're integrated into the roof now in most cases. And I'm pretty sure they have to be able to support the weight of the car in the event of a rollover or the loss of life would be pretty outrageous.
posted by fenriq at 1:40 PM on February 2, 2005

And, discounting that, they are safer than cars...just not for the other cars they hit.

Actually, that's not correct. From this.
"Drivers of the tiny Jetta die at a rate of just forty-seven per million, which is in the same range as drivers of the five-thousand-pound Chevrolet Suburban and almost half that of popular S.U.V. models like the Ford Explorer or the GMC Jimmy. In a head-on crash, an Explorer or a Suburban would crush a Jetta or a Camry. But, clearly, the drivers of Camrys and Jettas are finding a way to avoid head-on crashes with Explorers and Suburbans. The benefits of being nimble--of being in an automobile that's capable of staying out of trouble--are in many cases greater than the benefits of being big."
You should also refer to the table of fatality rates on that page. It's a real eye-opener.

Also, I find this constant rejustification of your need to own an SUV to be, well, sad. You own a big SUV. You really don't need it. You need to come to terms with that fact.
posted by bshort at 1:42 PM on February 2, 2005

Hey does anyone remember in the late 80's when it was really cool and fashionable to have a Geo Metro?
posted by Hands of Manos at 1:58 PM on February 2, 2005

Driving my car, a Protege5, nothing scares me more on a regular basis than being stopped at a light and seeing in my rearview a raised pickup/SUV coming up behind me. There is just something unnerving about being able to see under another vehicles bumpers and their drivetrain. It strikes me as unfair because all it would take is one of these guys to simply not realise I'm stopped and I'd be the one who loses their head.
posted by jeffmik at 2:24 PM on February 2, 2005

bshort, good rebuttal but what's this about Jetta's being tiny? I drive one everyday and they are definitely not tiny at all.

A Geo Metro is tiny, a Mazda Miata is tiny, a Jetta's a four door (usually) sedan. Not a big one but tiny? Nah.

jeffmik, its even better at night when they're headlights are above your trunk and basically flooding the car with light. That's just great fun. Or when each headlight is in each side mirror so you've got the total beam effect going! Whoo, that's fun stuff, for sure!
posted by fenriq at 2:33 PM on February 2, 2005

fenriq, that Jetta quote is from the article I referenced. Malcolm Gladwell wrote that, not me.
posted by bshort at 2:56 PM on February 2, 2005

SUVs should be held to the same gas mileage standard as passenger cars. When they fail to meet that standard, the manufacturers should be fined for each offending vehicle they produce. At some point, it will be more cost-effective to produce vehicles which use modern technology. Auto manufacturers have fought tooth and nail against revising CAFE (Corporate Automotive Fuel Economy) standards, arguing that the free market should decide. Funny thing is, with no changes to CAFE standards in 20 years they're still not improving things on their own.

It's completely possible to produce and sell a car which gets 80 miles per gallon without significant losses in performance. Check out how Bush killed the supercar project when he got into office. It's insane.
posted by mullingitover at 2:58 PM on February 2, 2005

I chafe at the idea that there's an educational campaign that's going to help deal with an inherent design-related flaw.

Kinda like cigarettes.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:49 PM on February 2, 2005

bshort, I'm pretty positive I replied to your comment with something to effect that Malcolm Gladwell has hurt my car's feelings.

I'm curious as to where it might have gone?
posted by fenriq at 4:14 PM on February 2, 2005

mullingitover, of course he killed the supercar project, he's a Texas OIL MAN! But its important to note and I'd not known about it, thanks for adding the link to the discussion.
posted by fenriq at 4:23 PM on February 2, 2005

kyrademon: "SUV's use truck frames."

While that's true for large SUVs like the Tahoe and Explorer, most of the smaller sport-utes are built on car platforms and with the same sort of unibody construction. The Toyota RAV4 and Highlander are both built on the family-sedan Camry chassis (as is the Sienna minivan), for example, and have car-like safety equipment and crash test scores. Toyota's 4Runner, in contrast, is one that's built on a truck frame chassis.

They still have a higher center of gravity compared to wheelbase than the sedans, however, so the rollover tendency still applies.

(My employer is an automotive information company.)

I will stick with my motorcycle. I've always preferred having superior acceleration, maneuverability and braking power - all of which a good-sized bike has in spades over anything with 4 wheels - than surrounding myself in armor. (Kind of like fighter jet vs. tank - the jet always wins in a 1-on-1.) Plus it gets 45 mpg! When was the last time you paid $8 to fill your tank? :)

The best way to stay safe on the road is simply to concentrate on your driving. SUVs are too much like rolling living rooms, and most drivers thereof act like they're at home on the couch as opposed to navigating 2 tons of steel at high speed on a road full of other high-speed projectiles.
posted by zoogleplex at 4:26 PM on February 2, 2005

If only the "exhaust" of an Esuvee was as benign as that of an animal.
posted by ParisParamus at 4:30 PM on February 2, 2005

Methane is a greenhouse gas too!
posted by zoogleplex at 4:37 PM on February 2, 2005

Sorry, creative, but lame in terms of communication. Also, that was the longest Flash loading ever, and Verizon just bumped up my DSL to 3Ms, or so!
posted by ParisParamus at 4:48 PM on February 2, 2005

And I'm not sure I'd like an SUV that left proportionally sized dookie bombs on the highway.

And PP, way to stay focused.
posted by fenriq at 4:59 PM on February 2, 2005

Commenting about the poor design of a site is sometimes wrong on Mefi?
posted by ParisParamus at 5:06 PM on February 2, 2005

I'm with zoogleplex. I have an F-150 and a KLR 650 and I prefer the motorcycle every time. When I have a choice. Which I don't at the moment, because an SUV pulled out in front of me on my way home from work and now my bike's in the shop.

In a given incident, I'd prefer to have the ability to avoid the accident than to have increased crash protection but decreased avoidance. I employ active avoidance, not passive. (Still love the Gladwell article, thanks for linking that again.)
posted by Eideteker at 5:19 PM on February 2, 2005

>> Hey does anyone remember in the late 80's when it was really cool and fashionable to have a Geo Metro?

Manos, it was never, ever cool to own a Geo Metro.
[Trust me, I owned one.]

posted by login at 6:08 PM on February 2, 2005

Geo Metro = great fashion statement
posted by Hands of Manos at 7:04 PM on February 2, 2005

"Also, I find this constant rejustification of your need to own an SUV to be, well, sad. You own a big SUV. You really don't need it. You need to come to terms with that fact."

I'm offering a justification in the spirit of civility, not because on this issue other people's approval or disapproval matters to me. In this case, it doesn't. I see the argument, I think it's right to a certain extent, but in my evaluation it ranks at the bottom of the list of Top 100 Things That I Have a Moral Obligation to Change.

Not that this actually applies to me now, since I don't own it anymore anyway. But I'd buy something like it again, given the chance.

Thanks to all those who corrected and informed me about the dangers of SUVs. Duly noted.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 7:18 PM on February 2, 2005

The biggest incentive, alas, won't be safety -- as Gladwell pointed out, the car-makers have carefully constructred the illusion of safety around these monstrosities -- but the cost of petrol.

(I saw one of the big 4x4s parked up a couple of months ago. Must have been a special import. It dwarfed everything around it.)
posted by riviera at 3:21 AM on February 3, 2005

SUVs are exempt from the CAFE requirement because "they're not cars, they're trucks." OK then, why don't we go back to prohibiting them from the fast lane on multilane highways? The signs are still there: "TRUCKS PROHIBITED FROM LEFT LANE." So if you gotta have a truck, you oughta be treated like a truck driver.

When I was learning to drive, you couldn't drive a pickup or van on a "trucks prohibited" lane or road. I guess too many legislators and cops drive the things now to go back to enforcing the rules. Sucks that the rest of us have to keep a nervous eye out for these enormobiles.

posted by Kirth Gerson at 12:56 PM on February 3, 2005

SUVs are already banned in some places.

While we're dredging up old links.
posted by Eideteker at 8:02 PM on February 3, 2005

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