Written by Robin Brown ▼

Folly Friday: Biofools, milk float theft and Ferrari boss misunderstands meaning of gravel trap

Biofuel folly, daring milk float raid foiled, EVs are too quiet, 70-year-old one-man supercar wrecker and Lady Victoria Hervey gets out of a car.

Time to think again on biofuels

It's never been clear to me whether first-generation biofuels offer any advantage over fossil fuels – and the more evidence that comes to light the more that opinion seems to be validated.

Any claims for the efficacy of biofuels seem to be predicated on the ability of biofuel crops sucking CO2 out of the atmosphere as they grow, as the actual tailpipe emissions are generally as high, if not higher, than for petrol or diesel.

A new report from the UN indicates that some biofuels, such as biodiesel from palm oil, release 20 times more CO2 than fossil fuels from well to wheel.

The wholesale destruction of rainforest and peat bogs – massive carbon sinks in their own right – to make way for palm plantations and the like is a vast and incredible folly in pursuit of some kind of climate change magic bullet.

We need to have a better understanding of the overarching impact of new fuel sources before embracing them so ingenuously – and there are a lot of companies that initially bought into biofuels now looking rather isolated; Saab and Bentley most obviously.

It's not hard to see a parallel problem developing with electric. Car manufacturers are embracing EVs as it shifts the responsibility for CO2 emissions away from them and towards energy providers.

Renault, through its partnership with BetterPlace, seems to be addressing this and there are other projects between manufacturers and energy companies.

But it's clear that more needs to be done to prepare for a big shift towards EVs and plug-in hybrids, or we'll be left with another problem relating to energy generation for our cars in ten years' time, wondering how no-one saw it coming.

As for biofuels, future generations such as algae blooms and biomass seem more promising. For the time being it seems clear that current biofuel strategies require an urgent rethink.

TRACKER technology leads to stolen milk float recovery, dairy puns

Thieves in the West Midlands seemed intent on depriving locals of their daily pint of milk when they stole a Ford Transit milk float.

Right, first off, MT finds it hard to believe that the motivation of these milk-float thieves was depriving people of their morning Coco Pops.

Thanks to the advanced Very High Frequency (VHF) technology used by TRACKER, the UK’s number one stolen vehicle recovery company, West Mercia Constabulary picked up a signal from the stolen vehicle tracking unit which led to its recovery along with three other vehicles.

In fairness, MT thinks this technology is pretty cool.

The signal was tracked by officers on the ground and a police helicopter, to isolated buildings in the Bridgenorth area of Shropshire. Police recovered the stolen milk float along with two other stolen vans and plant machinery. Two people were arrested at the scene.


Adrian Davenport, TRACKER Police Liaison Manager for the area says; “It takes a lot of bottle to steal a milk float...


...but thankfully there was no milk onboard.

Phew. Thank God.

• Next week: An Avon Lady is recovered in Slough.

Check out my gravel trap

Ferrari boss Luca de Montezemolo is clearly nonplussed by the clue in the title 'Gravel Trap'.

It's the only explanation MT can think of as to why Luca decided to ditch his Ferrari California contaning Fernando Alonso and a returning Felipe Massa in the sharp and flinty stuff in Valencia.

The three had to be rescued by another passing Cali – no AA trucks for these three. Still, nice to see Massa on the mend.

Septuagenarian millionaire keeps totalling supercars

As far as we're concerned if Bob Lutz wants to keep crashing supercars it's his business.


EVs too quiet

It seems like EVs and hybrids running in electric-only mode have a previously unheard-of (ahem) problem. Namely, people keep walking out into the road in front of them.

The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association wants minimum noise requirements for electric cars before they become widespread, as studies show that unsighted people can only detect the noise of EVs by the time they've passed by.

A spokesperson for the Environmental Transport Association (ETA) said: “When we test drove the near-silent Nissan FCV it was obvious that even greater care was needed around pedestrians, but it seems a shame that the artificial noise being developed for electric cars cannot be anything more imaginative than the sound of a petrol engine."

So, suggestions? The rasp of a Lambo perhaps? The calming monotone of a Jenson Button interview? Or how about any of the samples from the following video?

Tesco compressed air update

Someone is getting back to us, two weeks after we first raised this with the supermarket giant.

If you don't know what this about click here for more: Every Little Helps

Latest DVLA press release

MT has a problem with the dual role of the DVLA as overseer of the nation's vehicle ownership and taxation, and its Hyde-like alter-ego as a desperate hawker of shit vanity plates.

It strikes MT as a little like the MoD sending out press releases selling die-cast miniatures of its warships or the Treasury selling Alistair Darling-branded calculators.

Still, people want to buy personalised plates, and it's right that if anyone is making money off it should be the government.


It's just that vanity plates tend to be so crapulous the DVLA's dual role does it no favours in its more serious walks of life.

Anyway, the latest missive from Swansea reaches us with news of new '10' plates likely to be snapped up for Christmas.

So, stand by for lots of D4VE 10 type number plates adorning Audi TTs in January.

Go here to find your very own licence plate that looks a bit like your name. The closest MT could find was MT10RKK, a snip at £390

Clarkson is most valuable columnist

A survey by the Guardian, in response to Rupert Murdoch's plans to start charging for online content, reveals that Jeremy Clarkson is the columnist most people would shell out for.

Then again, given that the list also includes the likes of Richard Littlejohn, Giles Coren and Simon Heffer – absolute Ssangyong Rextons to a man by MT's judgement – what do the great British public know?

• Quentin Wilson was not placed

Posh woman gets out of car

Hervey Lambo

Lady Victoria Hervey at 2010 Pirelli calendar worldwide première

For the occasion, all three Lamborghinis sported a new feature: hidden LED lights which, positioned under the wheel arches, illuminated the tyres in homage to the Milan-based tyre company.