Comfortable, spacious and elegant. But sometimes too, especially on the other side of the Atlantic, big, heavy and inefficient. These are the SUVcars whose popularity continues to grow and which, in 2021 alone, recorded an increase in global sales of +10% compared to the previous year.
According to the IEA, theInternational Energy Agency, they set a new record in 2021, surpassing 35 million registered cars worldwide and occupying a share of more than 45%. This is a new all-time high, higher than 2019, the best year in the pre-pandemic era. According to the IEA, which published a study on the subject, SUVs are also increasingly popular among electric car buyers, but 98% of them are now equipped with combustion engines. With reflections that deserve to be observed.
What if they were a country?
The study, relaunched these days by Alessandro Blasispecial adviser to the agency’s executive director, also highlights other aspects related to the spread of SUVs (while clearly reminding us, if need be, how essential it is to reduce emissions in China).
One of them concerns the greenhouse gas emissions produced by this category of vehicle. Looking only at vehicles sold in 2021, SUVs were responsible for approximately 120 million tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere. A figure which, taken like that, does not necessarily speak.
This is why the IEA has made another calculation, much more understandable, which takes into account all the SUVs that circulate every day on the roads. In this case, the total value of CO2 emissions exceeds 900 million tons of CO2 per year, which means that if the SUV category were a State, it would be in the Top 10 of those with the highest emissions, taking sixth position!
But what if all the SUVs on the road were smaller cars? The IEA does not provide such an estimate, but you can get an idea by consulting the European Environment Agency calculationswhich estimates that the difference between the average emissions of CO2 from cars and SUVs on site is around 10%.
But back to the IEA. According to the agency, the number of electric cars in circulation to offset the increase in SUV emissions since 2010. For now, however, the good news is that the growth in sales of fully electric vehicles by 2021 has completely offset the increase in emissions linked to the increase in the number of SUVs over the past year.
What can be done to reduce SUV emissions? The agency, which has already shown the way to a sustainable future in the past, suggests for example continuing policies to encourage the purchase of electric models to accelerate the transition. This is what all the major European countries are doing. But also – and above all – trying to stop the growth in size of this type of car, which year after year becomes bigger and heavierwith negative effects on fuel and resource consumption.
And what about the electric car?
Of course, the need to curb mass growth is just as valid for electric cars. It is no coincidence that the IEA (in the study in question, which you can find on this link) highlights the fact that the average capacity of batteries fully electric SUVs today is around 70 kWh, compared to 50 kWh for “normal” models, understand non-SUVs.
Beyond the power supply, the durability of cars also inevitably depends on their weight and height. The good news is that while in the past few people have really addressed this issue, with electric cars the situation will change as you will be able to see for yourself the benefits of efficiency in everyday life, through effects on autonomy. And whoever is not happy to have a few extra kilometers throws the first stone!