Rise of SUVs ‘makes mockery’ of electric car push

The “immense” rise in sales of high-emission sports utility vehicles means they now outsell electric cars in the UK by 37 to one, research has found.

As a result, overall exhaust emissions from new cars have been increasing, not declining, for the past three years, says the UK Energy Research Centre.

SUV sales are jeopardising the UK transport sector’s ability to meet EU emissions targets, it said.

Prof Jillian Anable of the UKERC said this made “a mockery” of UK policy. “Effectively, we have been sleepwalking into the issue,” she said.

“The decarbonisation of the passenger car market can no longer rely on a distant target to stop the sales of conventional engines. We must start to phase out the most polluting vehicles immediately.

“It is time to enact a strong set of regulations to transform the entire car market towards ultra-low carbon, rather than focusing solely on the uptake of electric vehicles.”

Over the past four years, there have been 1.8 million SUV sales, compared to a total of 47,000 for battery electric vehicles (BEV).

In 2018, SUVs accounted for 21.2% of new car sales, up from 13.5% three years earlier.

However, BEV sales are coming from a low base, as the technology is still relatively new.

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