By STUART DYE
A global campaign against the "Remuera tractor" is heading to New Zealand.
Critics of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) say they are giant gas-guzzlers with no place on the roads.
A campaign in other parts of the world, notably the United States, has seen dealerships attacked and car yards set on fire. TV ads claimed owners indirectly aided terrorists financed by Middle East oil exporters.
New Zealand opponents say their campaign will be far more passive. They plan to distribute thousands of car stickers reading: "One Less 4WD."
Nosuv.org organiser Olly Powell said the campaign meant to open people's eyes to the dangers of SUVs on the roads and their environmentally destructive nature.
"The perception is that they are safer, but they are not. They are more likely to roll over than other cars, and if they are involved in an accident the other party is twice as likely to be seriously injured. They also have terrible fuel economy and emit far more greenhouse gases than smaller cars."
Mr Powell, a PhD student of micro-system technology, emphasises that the campaign is not about getting rid of the vehicles altogether.
"Rather it's a case of getting them back where they belong - they have no place driving round city centres to get to the shops or to pick the kids up from school."
SUVs are now 11 per cent of New Zealand's 2.2 million car fleet and continue to grow rapidly in popularity, says the AA.
Sales are helped by low car ownership taxes that do not differ according to engine size combined with the second-cheapest pump prices for fuel in the OECD.
AA motoring editor Peter King said SUVs consumed three to 12 times more than ordinary cars.
Since 1990 the country's total vehicle fleet had grown by 22 per cent, but transport-related greenhouse gas emissions had grown 36 per cent.