A new report reveals the rise in popularity of SUVs as one of the largest contributors to increases in CO2 emissions around the world. Now, the appropriateness of these vehicles for business fleets is being questioned.
High-riding cars, from hatchback-based ‘soft-roaders’ to luxury SUVs, have increased in popularity enormously over the last decade or so. Where once their UK market share was 17 percent, it now stands at 39 percent.
SUVs tend to be bigger, heavier, less aerodynamic and therefore less efficient than normal cars. Crucially, on average, they’re more polluting. So says an International Energy Agency document, which has highlighted the issue.
Should SUVs be banned from company fleets?
“The statistics in this new report are pretty shocking and should at least prompt businesses to check, as far as possible, the real-world emissions performance of not just fleet SUVs that they operate but any which are used through affinity leasing and grey fleet,” said Peter Golding, managing director of FleetCheck.
“There is certainly a need, the numbers suggest, to ascertain whether SUVs that are being operated on company business comply to sensible CSR requirements and even perhaps asking whether they are projecting the right image for your business.”
In spite of the figures, an outright ban isn’t being suggested. Rather, businesses are being advised to decide whether high-emitters “should have a place as company transport”.
“Of course, this should not mean automatically removing every SUV from your fleet,” Golding continued.
“Some have emissions figures that are broadly comparable to equivalent cars. However, others certainly don’t, even among models that appear to be among the softest of soft-roaders.
“Businesses need to decide, at a corporate level, whether it is right that vehicles of this type should have a place as company transport and look at whether their policies need to be amended to take account of their findings.”
Diesel cars preferable to petrol SUVS
Golding continues, referencing the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal that tarred the image of diesel fuel in the eyes of consumers. While noting the severity of the diesel emissions issue, he said “it makes almost no sense that diesel cars are often giving way as everyday transport to petrol SUVs”.
While better on nitrous oxide (NOx) emissions generally, CO2 figures rise drastically by comparison in petrol SUVs, as does fuel consumption.
Plug-in hybrids aren’t the answer
Golding criticises plug-in and ‘self-charging’ hybrid SUVs, too, saying the benefits of their electrified powertrains are felt only in specific circumstances.
Short journeys are best, and only if they’re regularly charged in the case of PHEVs. On long motorway runs, “for higher mileage fleet drivers, they are generally poor choices”.