The car industry wants you to buy a big car.
Even if you don’t buy a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV), your options for a ‘small car’ are disappearing as cars get bigger, and this is a huge problem.
So, on the 7th September, 35 activists from Greenpeace Germany took action. They protested on the loading ramp of a ship importing thousands of SUVs into Europe. Along its side, they unfurled a banner reading ‘climate killers on board’.
They did this because we are in a climate crisis. And we didn’t get here by accident. We got here because reckless companies, including those in the car industry, put profits before a liveable planet. It’s vital that we hold them responsible for what they are doing. We need to dramatically reduce our emissions across all sectors, and that includes our cars. But car companies are taking us backwards. They are making cars bigger, and promoting the heaviest ones. It’s a disaster.
Big bets on big cars
Car companies are investing heavily in SUVs, launching new models all the time. Volkswagen are rolling out 16 new models before 2020. They’re also spending heavily on publicity to make sure we buy them. Unpublished Greenpeace analysis of Nielsen Media data indicates that SUVs are more heavily advertised than any other car types.
And for the car industry, all this investment is paying off; around the world, sales of SUVs are booming. By 2025, 40% of all new cars sold globally could be SUVs.
What we are witnessing is a ‘SUVization’ of the model ranges being offered. Even iconic small cars from bygone eras, like the Fiat 500 or the Mini, are now available as SUVs. Large cars are proving increasingly hard to avoid. And that is very bad news.
More weight, more emissions
The average car in Germany was 77kg heavier in 2018 than it was in 2008. This matters, because the heavier a car is, the more energy it needs to move around. For most cars, this means burning more carbon emissions. And don’t be fooled by SUVs powered by electricity; with a much larger battery than its smaller counterpart, emissions jump during production.
A Volkswagen Golf weighs over two thirds more than it did 40 years ago. Some of this weight increase stems from new safety features but as a result, it is estimated to emit 57% more carbon for petrol models. To put that another way, if all Golfs had stayed as light as before, with improvement in technology, their average CO2 emissions would be around half of what they are today.
But by modern standards, a Golf isn’t even that big. A VW Tiguan — essentially an SUV version of the Golf — is 200kg heavier. That’s the same weight as two giant pandas, only nowhere near as cuddly.
The car industry has become truly grotesque. A Volkwagen from the 80s would look like a toy compared to what’s on the roads today. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. But the choices that the car industry made have dire implications for all of us.
It’s not just climate
The problems with SUVs don’t stop with climate. Because of their height and weight, you’re more likely to die if you’re in an accident involving an SUV, if you’re on foot or in another car . This is compounded by the fact that SUV drivers are less likely to obey the rules of the road and more likely to take risks while driving.
The car manufacturers profit-driven supersizing is threatening us all. They have to change direction. The Paris agreement commits nations to preventing more than 1.5 degrees of warming, but none of the large car manufacturers have a plan to honour that. Almost all of them are committed to selling petrol and diesel cars for the foreseeable future and by making cars bigger, they’re just making things worse.
This is reckless. They are profiting at our expense.
But the path towards sustainability is clear. They need to stop developing models that run on petrol and diesel and make the switch entirely to electric vehicles. And all cars need to be much smaller.
And that’s just the start. We need fewer cars on the road and that means car manufacturers need to stop promoting private ownership of cars. Cars should be shared, not individually owned. Together, we need to work towards a sustainable transport future – of more public transport, more walking and cycling, and fewer cars.
Around the world, thousands of people have signed an open letter calling on those responsible for the climate crisis to clean up their act. Please join them.
Andrew Tobert is a digital campaigner with the Clean Air Now campaign
Ediriweera Desapriya u.a. (2010) Do light truck vehicles (LTV) impose greater risk of pedestrian injury than passenger cars? A meta-analysis and systematic review, in: Traffic Injury Prevention, 11/2010, S. 48-56.
Wallner, Peter; Wanka, Anna; Huttler, Hans-Peter (2017) SUV driving ‘masculinizes’ risk behavior in females: a public health challenge, in Wiener klinische Wochenschrift, Jg. 129, Nr. 17, S. 625 – 629.
I love suvs. Can you please stop calling them klimakiller? I would appreciate it
Its true, they use more materials, take up more room , parking places, use more fuel, do more damage to roads and curbs etc, because of bigger wheels and excessive weight of the vehicles. They are environmentally unfriendly. And unnecessary in today's world.
The customer will choose from the chocolates available in the box. It is urgently necessary to limit design to collectively safe and environmentally suitable options.
Thank you for citing our article in your timely important paper and we do really appreciate your efforts to disseminate the science and common sense based evidence. We also published many articles and our advocacy efforts using peer review articles on danger posed by SUVs for other vulnerable road users can be found: Traffic safety and sports utility vehicles. Desapriya E, Pike I, Subzwari S. Lancet. 2006 Jul 15;368(9531):201-2. Risks on the roads. Desapriya E, Pike I, Joshi P. CMAJ. 2006 Jun 6;174(12):1743. Deterrent to healthy lifestyles in our communities. Desapriya EB, Pike I, Basic A, Subzwari S. Pediatrics. 2007 May;119(5):1040-2; author reply 1042. . Sports utility vehicles and vulnerable road users. Desapriya E, Pike I, Turcotte K. Am J Public Health. 2007 Apr;97 Suppl 1:S4-5. The risk of injury and vehicle damage in vehicle mismatched crashes. Desapriya E, Chipman M, Joshi P, Pike I. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot. 2005 Sep;12(3):191-2. Sports utility vehicles and older pedestrians: achieving compatibility in motor vehicle crashes. Desapriya EB, Pike I. BMJ. 2005 Oct 22;331(7522):966-7.
Thank you for citing our article in your timely important paper and we do really appreciate your efforts to disseminate the science and common sense based evidence. We also published many articles and our advocacy efforts using peer review articles to highlight the danger posed by SUVs for other vulnerable road users can be found: 1. Traffic safety and sports utility vehicles. Desapriya E, Pike I, Subzwari S. Lancet. 2006 Jul 15;368(9531):201-2. 2. Risks on the roads. Desapriya E, Pike I, Joshi P. CMAJ. 2006 Jun 6;174(12):1743. 3. Deterrent to healthy lifestyles in our communities. Desapriya EB, Pike I, Basic A, Subzwari S. Pediatrics. 2007 May;119(5):1040-2; author reply 1042. . 4. Sports utility vehicles and vulnerable road users. Desapriya E, Pike I, Turcotte K. Am J Public Health. 2007 Apr;97 Suppl 1:S4-5. 5. The risk of injury and vehicle damage in vehicle mismatched crashes. Desapriya E, Chipman M, Joshi P, Pike I. Int J Inj Contr Saf Promot. 2005 Sep;12(3):191-2. 6. Sports utility vehicles and older pedestrians: achieving compatibility in motor vehicle crashes. Desapriya EB, Pike I. BMJ. 2005 Oct 22;331(7522):966-7.
You forgot to mention that if people would by tje small cars, the big car companies would be really happy to sell them. The customer is not only a victim. The customer is also demanding this big trucks and SUVs.
That's because they are afraid, when everyone drive around a 2000 kg SUV.. do you want to be in a Golf with only 1300 kg? To stop this SUV craziness you need to stop building SUV's and limit both height and weight.
You forgot to mention that the American IIHS established a steep 81% ride in pedestrian fatalities in SUV-related accidents, over the period 2008-2018. There is a way of course. Reduce vehicle footprint dramatically, which reduces weight, and will make it possible to purchase those sleeker vehicles with electric motor without needing governments to shell out billions in EV tax credits. It will benefit traffic throughput too, be safer for cyclists and pedestrians. There is a complete blueprint for this which has already been confirmed by experts as feasible and viable. Check it out at smart-for-three dot com
81% ride = 81% rise
If people really cared about the environment, they wouldn't buy large SUV 's and other gas-guzzling vehicles. Most eat lots of meat, consume nearly fifty percent more food than they need, (and waste nearly forty percent of what is purchased!), use tons of pesticides on their gardens and lawns, not to mention the huge poisoning of our food supply with toxic pesticides and the poisoning of our bodies with highly dangerous Rx drugs. As if that were not bad enough, the U.S. Gov't (and others around the world), are "secretly" spraying us with a variety of toxic compounds from so-called Geoengineering programs. In short, WE COULD be tackling our pending climate collapse head on, but most simply don't give a heck. I'm in the solar industry and I can say without hesitation, that most people simply don't care. Surely, advertising is evil and "talks us into" buying things we don't need and (often), can't afford to buy. So WHY are we buying all these SUV's? Because we has relnquished our individual (and collective) capacity for critical thinking. And all that aluminum (and other toxins) in those weather modification programs (and vaccines), only worsens our cognitive faculties. If you think people can think, try asking them to describe why vaccines are safe, or why the brains of Autistic children or those with Alz. disease are both sky-high aluminum. I don't mean to get off topic, but our inability to engage in critical thinking is largely why our towns and cities are clogged with very large, environmentally unfriendly SUV's. Sure, the big companies ONLY care about profit, but it's always been that way. No one made you buy one, just like no one makes you buy Round up, factory farmed meat or junk food. We've done it to ourselves and those that are "awake", will go down just like all those ignorant ones out there. And if YOU are "awake," what is the title of the last book you read on the falseflag events of 18 years back or any other "controversial" topic?