A new study has found that most SUVs in the UK are bought by city drivers.
SUVs and crossovers are now so popular that some automakers such as Ford and Buick no longer build traditional passenger cars. The SUV sales boom is showing no signs of slowing down either, as many automakers like Audi and VW estimate that SUV sales will continue to increase dramatically over the next few years.
As a result, World Wildlife Fund is concerned that large SUVs clogging up city centers is harming the environment and wants to ban excessive SUV advertising in France. Now, the RAC Foundation is warning people in the UK to rethink their car buying habits as many people are using large SUVs to cruise around town rather than go offroad. "We should all choose the right vehicle for the right trip to cut the size of our carbon footprint," the RAC Foundation's Steve Gooding told the BBC.
"It is right to question if suburban drivers need a car capable of ploughing over rivers, across fields and up steep hills just to pop to the shops." A study by the New Weather Institute also confirms that most large SUVs in the UK are bought by urban drivers instead of off-roading enthusiasts.
According to the study, three-quarters of SUVs in the UK are registered to owners who live in towns and cities. The largest SUVs are most popular in Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Westminster. One in three new cars bought in these areas is a large SUV, while the most popular large SUV bought by urban drivers is the Lexus NX300. The study also found that SUVs are dominating areas with limited road space and the largest number of cars parked on the street. Large SUVs aren't practical in these areas because they are too big to fit in a standard UK parking space.
"One of advertising's biggest manipulations has persuaded urban families that it's perfectly 'normal' to go shopping in a two-tonne truck," said Andrew Simms from the New Weather Institute. "But the human health and climate damage done by SUVs is huge and needs to be undone. Just as tobacco advertising was successfully ended, it's time to stop promoting polluting SUVs."
What the study fails to acknowledge is that SUVs now come in all shapes and sizes. In response to the increasing demand for SUVs in urban areas, many automakers now offer smaller SUVs that are more suitable for city driving. Even large luxury SUVs like the Bentley Bentayga are available with more economical hybrid engines that are kinder to the environment and electric SUVs like the Hyundai Kona EV, Tesla Model X, and Jaguar I-Pace are becoming increasingly popular.
"The term SUV has become so broad as to be unhelpful," said Gooding. "(Some) motorists might just be seeking the comfort and convenience of relatively tall but still modestly-sized cars that come with the SUV badge but are economical to run."