Efforts to cut vehicle emissions are being undermined because gas-guzzling sports utility vehicles are outselling electric cars by 37 to 1, according to research.
A study due to be published today said that growing demand for large petrol and diesel-powered cars was making a mockery of attempts to promote green transport.
Sales of electric cars have risen rapidly in recent years: the number of new registrations more than doubled this year. However, the study by the UK Energy Research Centre found that claims of an electric vehicle “revolution” were misplaced, pointing out that they still made up only about 1 per cent of new car sales. According to the study, sports utility vehicles such as the Nissan Qashqai, Ford Kuga and Range Rover Evoque made up 21.2 per cent of new car sales last year, up from 13.5 per cent in 2017 and 6.6 per cent a decade ago. Almost 1.8 million were sold between 2015 and 2018 compared with 47,400 electric cars. SUVs emit about a quarter more carbon dioxide (CO2) than a medium-size car and nearly four times more than a battery electric vehicle.
A report last month from the International Energy Agency warned that growing demand for SUVs worldwide was eliminating emissions savings by those who switched to electric cars.
The UK Energy Research Centre, which co-ordinates research on sustainable energy from Imperial College London, is calling for a ban on the sale of new combustion engine cars — earmarked for 2040 — to be brought forward by ten years. Labour and the Liberal Democrats have pledged to introduce a 2030 target. The Conservatives have promised to “consult on the earliest date” that fossil fuel cars could be phased out without seriously affecting drivers and businesses.