Flung to the corners of the earth (literally) through work and holiday, posting has been a little sporadic recently – but with one of us back in the country today, and the other on Wednesday, we’re well on the way to getting back on track here on Re*move.
The main movement issue here is the motivation needed to move from beach to bar...
It always amazes me how two weeks on a beach with little access to internet and only Sky News to keep you availed of what’s going on back home can lead to the world seeming a little skewed. But then you get home and discover that all is just as it was - your inbox is full of a million emails, and your news aggregator full of exciting stories. Certainly while I’ve been away there’s been much happening in the world connected with movement - a bit too much to round up in one go here.
But before I take a day or two to digest the last couple of weeks’ news, a couple of things are worthy of picking up on here and now. In Frankfurt, the 2007 international auto show is in full swing. The auto industry, having been caught out and belligerent in Geneva earlier this year about the sudden clamour for small, economical, green cars has - given the impression at least - of picking up the batten and running with the idea that small and green can be beautiful.
The Opel 'Flextreme' - Segways to come as standard?
In the ‘green corner’ GM unveiled the latest concept to run on its ‘e-flex’ platform – this time an Opel, the ‘Flextreme’ – a pointer towards the next Astra. It was notable for the fact that the rear deck accommodated two Segway human transporters, charged by the vehicle’s battery power system, but was otherwise a little bland in terms of styling and other new innovation areas. Much more interesting was Citroen’s C-Cactus, the latest in a long line of ‘so-bonkers-looking-it-makes-you-smile’ designs from the French firm, which featured some new twists on a ‘green’ approach to car design. The car was a relief in many ways – proof that Citroen hasn’t lost it’s original, eccentric streak, at a time when its national compatriots – Renault and Peugeot – appear to have thrown their design originality copy book into the Seine (see new Laguna and 308)
Citroen C-Cactus - was it a bulldog or frog they had in mind here?
In the ‘small corner’ Toyota’s iQ and Volkswagen’s Up! vied for attention – both concepts which will spawn diminutive city cars to rival the Smart ForTwo and Fiat 500. Notable is the Volkswagen’s rear engined layout, which the mainstream press have been keen to point out harks back to the original Beetle – but employed here for the benefit of packaging and to allow a very small car to pass crash tests. The car features more Germanic, restrained design language than we have been used to from Volkswagen recently – which is probably good news, but whether the car can possess the character that attracts buyers – and offered in spades by the Smart and 500 – remains to be seen.
Volkswagen Up! - the white body colour is not the only similarity with Herbie...
Returning to environmental matters, the Conservative party here in the UK have once again been making the running as the political party when it comes to caring for the environment – last week publishing an 547 page document which breaks with their traditional party values by promising to hike ‘green’ taxes. It seems that the party are impressing certain sections of the press with their tenacity and commitment to this subject, but the policy on aviation and airport expansion is obviously still something of a minefield. Intriguingly enough, it still seems that this issue of air-travel is still only of major concern in one country right now – the UK. I may be wrong, but I get the distinct impression that across Europe and the rest of the world, the travelling public are not yet expected to demonstrate, nor be burdened with, the same level of guilt that we see here in the UK. Please correct me if I’m wrong – I’m just interested to see how the flying issue pans out over the next few years. Britain’s current media and political climate on the subject seems likely to either make them leader or loser on the subject in the long term. More on that soon.
But green issues are obviously ‘bottom-up’ subjects as much as a ‘top-down’, politically driven ones – so it’s great to see Greenmonk.net – which we occasionally contribute to, being syndicated by Computerworlduk.com – nice one James!
Watch this space for more links and analysis over the next few days.
Posted by Joseph Simpson on 17th September 2007.