Sales of SUVs ‘making a mockery’ of emission policies

The massive popularity of ‘energy-consuming’ SUVs means that the emission benefits of new electric cars are being outweighed.

SUV emissions outweigh EV benefits

In spite of the growing popularity of electric cars, a new study suggests the sales of large, heavy, emissions-intensive SUVs is far outweighing any initial benefits. On average, SUVs emit around 25 percent more CO2 than normal cars.

SUVs and crossovers outsell electric cars 37 to one. While electric cars are increasing in popularity, with registrations doubling, the SUV craze is stronger still. They made up 21.2 percent of car sales last year.

Contrast to 2017, when SUVs made up just 13.5 percent of car sales. A decade ago, when the crossover was just getting traction, SUV sales were 6.6 percent. 

SUV emissions outweigh EV benefits

Between 2015 and 2018, 47,400 electric cars were sold. By comparison, near-on 1.8 million SUVs were sold in the same period. The study noted that affordable finance deals make SUVs more attractive to car buyers. 

Applying the average increased emissions from SUVs to that figure, 1.8 million SUVs have emissions equivalent to 2.25 million normal cars. That’s an extra 450,000+ cars’ worth of emissions, outweighing the sales of electric cars almost ten-fold. 

CO2 emissions had been reducing since the early 2000s, but rose in 2016. The Department for Transport has admitted this could be “broadly due to a shift towards registering larger cars, which have higher emissions”.

SUV emissions outweigh EV benefits

“The rapid uptake of unnecessarily large and energy-consuming vehicles makes a mockery of UK policy efforts towards the ‘road to zero’,” said Professor Jillian Anable, co-director of the UK Energy Research Centre.

“In effect, we have been sleep-walking into the issue. The decarbonisation of the passenger car market can no longer rely on a distant target to stop the sales of conventional engines. We must start to phase out the most polluting vehicles immediately.”

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Ethan Jupp
I'm Content Editor at MR. Road trips music and movies are my vices. Perennially stuck between French hot hatches and Australian muscle cars.


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