How to make off-road SUV action better for the environment



Off-roaders often get the end of the stick when the discussion turns to environmental issues - wasting fossil fuel, generating exhaust pollution, killing fauna, and all for just selfish personal entertainment. It's too much of a disastrous carbon footprint to justify the ego trip of motoring over natural terrain for no good reason, some people scream.

Well, guilty as charged, I suppose. I love the rumble of a petrol V8 engine, especially up a quiet mountain trail. I don't mind a smoke-belching diesel, either, especially through deep mud and water passages. And I absolutely reach motoring heaven on my two-stroke, 350cc quad bike on the sand dunes.

There is no doubt compromises need to be made and, indeed, will be forced upon us eventually. Hopefully we will soon be offered zero-emission, solar-powered 4x4 vehicles with comparable torque, and we can play the sound of rally car engines on our audio systems if we miss the sound stimulation of a roaring combustion engine.

In the meantime, here are some things we can do to minimise our effect on the environment.

Petrol consumption is normally quite dramatic off-road, but staying out of the low gearset is a useful step: the engine will rev less in the high gears and the gears will range longer, requiring less frequent shifts. Engage low only when really needed, such as when escaping from a stuck situation, or on a steep descent, then shift back into high gear right away.

On soft sand, tyres are deflated to increase footprint, and when the drive ends back on tarmac a decision is taken whether to inflate with a portable compressor (slow, and has you standing in the sun) or to just drive slowly to a nearby petrol station. If you carry an air compressor, better use it, to save both gas and wear on the tyres; driving with deflated tyres on tarmac is also dangerous. Heavy acceleration, and subsequent braking, make a big difference to the economy you'll get out of your vehicle; on remote expeditions, where the amount of fuel is limited, one of the golden rules is to maintain a steady speed.

If you're out to play on the dunes, you'll likely not want to be too gentle with your right foot, but saving it for when it's required by the terrain is a fair compromise: avoid spinning wheels unnecessarily when on the flat.

Littering, I believe, we can do away with immediately, as there can be no valid reason for dumping rubbish in natural surroundings.

Most desert animals stay far away from loud vehicles and hide in the bushes and underground, so there is little chance of killing them. But plants definitely can be damaged, even killed, by heavy-duty off-road wheels, so staying off the green stuff as much as possible is a fair rule. If you've ever driven on the sand dunes after rain, you'll know that wherever tyres pass, the fresh green grasses don't survive.

Are our off-road trips defensible in a world of dwindling resources and delicate ecological survival? I'll let you decide that one, but they can definitely be made easier on our environment without losing all the fun.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Haltia.ai
Started: 2023
Co-founders: Arto Bendiken and Talal Thabet
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: AI
Number of employees: 41
Funding: About $1.7 million
Investors: Self, family and friends

RECORD BREAKER

Youngest debutant for Barcelona: 15 years and 290 days v Real Betis
Youngest La Liga starter in the 21st century: 16 years and 38 days v Cadiz
Youngest player to register an assist in La Liga in the 21st century: 16 years and 45 days v Villarreal
Youngest debutant for Spain: 16 years and 57 days v Georgia
Youngest goalscorer for Spain: 16 years and 57 days
Youngest player to score in a Euro qualifier: 16 years and 57 days

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-final:

First leg: Liverpool 5 Roma 2

Second leg: Wednesday, May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: BeIN Sports, 10.45pm (UAE)

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

THREE

Director: Nayla Al Khaja

Starring: Jefferson Hall, Faten Ahmed, Noura Alabed, Saud Alzarooni

Rating: 3.5/5

EMILY IN PARIS: SEASON 3

Created by: Darren Star

Starring: Lily Collins, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Ashley Park

Rating: 2.75/5

THE HOLDOVERS

Director: Alexander Payne

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Dominic Sessa

Rating: 4.5/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

Company Profile

Company name: Namara
Started: June 2022
Founder: Mohammed Alnamara
Based: Dubai
Sector: Microfinance
Current number of staff: 16
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Family offices

ETFs explained

Exhchange traded funds are bought and sold like shares, but operate as index-tracking funds, passively following their chosen indices, such as the S&P 500, FTSE 100 and the FTSE All World, plus a vast range of smaller exchanges and commodities, such as gold, silver, copper sugar, coffee and oil.

ETFs have zero upfront fees and annual charges as low as 0.07 per cent a year, which means you get to keep more of your returns, as actively managed funds can charge as much as 1.5 per cent a year.

There are thousands to choose from, with the five biggest providers BlackRock’s iShares range, Vanguard, State Street Global Advisors SPDR ETFs, Deutsche Bank AWM X-trackers and Invesco PowerShares.

The biog

Age: 35

Inspiration: Wife and kids 

Favourite book: Changes all the time but my new favourite is Thinking, Fast and Slow  by Daniel Kahneman

Best Travel Destination: Bora Bora , French Polynesia 

Favourite run: Jabel Hafeet, I also enjoy running the 30km loop in Al Wathba cycling track

The specs: 2018 Ford F-150

Price, base / as tested: Dh173,250 / Dh178,500

Engine: 5.0-litre V8

Power: 395hp @ 5,000rpm

Torque: 555Nm @ 2,750rpm

Transmission: 10-speed automatic

Fuel consumption, combined: 12.4L / 100km

Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8


Weekender

Get the highlights of our exciting Weekend edition every Saturday

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Weekender