SUVs outselling electric cars 37 to 1 as climate group calls for action

Sales of both vehicle types have grown, but 1.8 million SUVs were sold over the last four years compared with 47,000 EVs

Porsche Cayenne Coupe - front tracking

SUVs are outselling electric cars at a ratio of 37 to 1, according to a new study by an organisation arguing for “immediate action” to reduce sales of large cars.

Although sales of both electric cars and SUVs have grown, just 47,000 of the former have been sold in the last four years, compared with 1.8 million of the latter. There are, of course, electric SUVs on sale - like the Kia e-Niro and Jaguar I-Pace - but these were grouped with the ‘electric cars’ for the purposes of this comparison.

Best electric cars on sale

The share of the new car market accounted for by electric cars has risen from 0.6 per cent in 2018 to 1.5 per cent in the first 11 months of 2019, but this has done nothing to combat growing SUV registrations, which have grown 13.5 per cent in three years to account for 21.2 per cent of new car sales in 2018 - three times more than they did a decade earlier.

According to the UK Energy Research Centre (UKREC), which published the report, SUVs emit around a quarter more CO2 on average than medium-sized cars and nearly four times more than electric cars, based on tailpipe emissions, well-to-tank emissions and carbon content of electricity.

Under the assumption that the majority of SUVs will be on the road for at least a decade, UKREC estimates the extra cumulative emissions from them will total around 8.2 million tonnes of CO2.

Growing SUV sales are not unique to the UK - they account for 60 per cent of the growth in the global car fleet since 2010. UKREC first highlighted SUVs’ “potential… to jeopardise the UK transport sector’s ability to meet EU targets for tailpipe CO2 emissions” back in 2005, but underestimated the scale of the growth.

No empirical research has been carried out to discover why SUV sales have grown in the way they have, but UKREC reasons that it’s down to attractive car financing packages and the ongoing freeze in fuel duty.

UKREC says “immediate action” is required to counter sales of larger cars and has called for the 2040 ban on the sale of all new conventional petrol and diesel cars to be brought forward to 2030.

The news follows claims from the European Federation for Transport and Environment think tank in September 2019, which said SUVs were to blame for rising CO2 emissions rather than diesels.

Do you think there are too many SUVs on the road? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below....

Recommended

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way
Digital driving licence
Consumer news

Transport secretary Grant Shapps confirms digital driving licences are on the way

DVLA plans to offer a digital provisional driving licence by 2024, with full digital licences to follow at a later date
17 Sep 2021
Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK
Home charging point
News

Electric car charge points to be installed in every new home in the UK

England will be the first country in the world to introduce mandatory electric car charging points for new-build homes
10 Sep 2021
Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way
smart motorway
News

Government asks for more Smart Motorway safety data with revised Highway Code on the way

A revised version of the Highway Code will cover Smart Motorway driving, as National Highways pledges to improve data and monitoring
8 Sep 2021
E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?
Petrol pump
News

E10 petrol explained: UK prices, checker tool and is it OK for your car?

E10 petrol is up to 10 per cent ethanol and is available at UK fuel stations now as part of the bid to cut CO2 emissions
1 Sep 2021

Most Popular

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released
Number plates
News

Exclusive: banned 71-reg number plates released

Latest DVLA list of banned UK registrations reveals which 71-plates are too rude for the road
21 Sep 2021
Volvo to ditch leather in all cars by 2030
Volvo interior
Volvo

Volvo to ditch leather in all cars by 2030

New C40 Recharge will be first Volvo to be offered without the option of leather upholstery
23 Sep 2021
'The Citroen Ami is the perfect affordable car for short journeys'
Citroen Ami
Citroen

'The Citroen Ami is the perfect affordable car for short journeys'

Having lived with a Citroen Ami for a few weeks, editor-in-chief Steve Fowler is delighted that it's coming to the UK
22 Sep 2021