Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

The luxury carmaker Bentley is set to release this high-end sport utility vehicle this year - part a troubling trend of larger and more expensive cars across Europe fashioned to satisfy the continent's elite. (Promotional photo)

What Climate Crisis? Sales of SUVs Booming in Europe

If you thought that growing awareness about climate change, coupled with years of austerity and recession, would mean that European drivers would be buying small fuel efficient cars, you would be wrong.

Although the pomp, swagger and pure unadulterated panache of Motor Shows do not totally reflect what your average consumer buys, they do give an indication of where the auto makers think the market is heading.

And the bad news for those worried about climate change is that big is back. One of the more prestigious Motor Shows in Europe starts this week in Geneva. And the sharp suits from the auto industry are showcasing a new round of SUVs for the masses and super-cars for the rich.

The so-called eco-consciousness of the industry – where fuel efficient and alternative fuel vehicles were pushed – has gone. A plunging oil price will only help the feeling that the average consumer can afford to buy a car the size of a small truck.

As Forbes noted latest week: “If you want to see the latest thing in autonomous cars, electric ones, fuel cells, or connectivity, don’t go to the annual car show here next week.”

It is all about SUVs and supercars now.  “Geneva will showcase exotic supercar playthings for the super rich”, notes Forbes.

And let’s not forget the SUV. Today’s Financial Times, also reporting from Geneva, outlines how the SUV has become “the must-have car of the 21st century”.

“The trick is to have an attractive car because people will be prepared to pay more for that,” Håkan Samuelsson, chief executive of Volvo, tells the paper: “And right now the market considers the SUV an attractive car.”

And so do European consumers who are “currently dumping their hatchbacks and sedans and buying SUVs,” according to Forbes.

Take Germany for example. In 2005, there were just under 60 SUV models on the market. Now that has increased to 90. Professor Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer from the Center for Automotive Research at the University of Duisberg-Essen argues that “Cheaper fuel and new models are whetting buyers appetite for SUVs. Manufacturers will have a hard time selling expensive (electric) cars in Germany and the world”.

And it is not just in Germany. As Europe’s love affairs with the SUV grows, they have increased from a market share of 5 per cent to approximately 22 per cent, with some industry analysts predicting that a third of all cars on Europe’s roads by the end of the decade will be gas-guzzling SUVs.

And this can only be bad news for the climate. On average, a SUV emits about 35 per cent more CO2 per kilometre than a conventional hatch-back or saloon.  “Cutting CO2 is clearly difficult when your customers want to drive bigger, heavier cars,” one industry analyst notes.

And its not just more CO2 that SUVs emit, its other pollutants too. Ironically, today Europe’s environmental watch-dog, the European Environment Agency, is warning that hundreds of thousands of Europeans will suffer an early death in the next two decades as the result of the failure by governments to act on air pollution.  Their warning is likely to be ignored by the sharp salesmen in Geneva.


© 2021 Oil Change International
https://admin.commondreams.org/author/andy-rowell

Andy Rowell

Andy Rowell is a staff blogger for Oil Change International in addition to working as a freelance writer and investigative journalist who specializes in environmental, health and lobbying issues. Follow him on Twitter: @andy_rowell

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Trump's CIA Considered Kidnapping or Assassinating Assange: Report

"The Biden administration must drop its charges against Assange immediately."

Jake Johnson ·


'Carrying Water for Big Corporations': Sinema Faces Backlash for Opposing Tax Hikes

"Make no mistake, if she sides with her wealthy donors and kills popular investments to jump-start the economy, everyday families—including across Arizona—will pay the price."

Jake Johnson ·


UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·


Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·


'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo