SUVs In The Firing Line Once Again

Wed 7th Apr 2021

Urban dwellers should not be buying large SUVs as they are not appropriate to their environment according to the leader of one of the UK’s most influential motoring organisations.

The RAC Foundation’s Steve Gooding has spoken out following the publication of a report which suggests that the vast majority of SUVs are owned by people living in towns and cities, further confirming the stereotype of the ‘Chelsea Tractor.

The report from the New Weather Institute think-tank found that three quarters of all SUVs sold in the UK are to people living in urban areas, and that the boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, and Westminster are the most popular homes for the much maligned vehicles. The same report suggests that the most popular SUV in city areas is the Lexus NX300.

"It turns out that the home of the 'Chelsea tractor' really is Chelsea. One of advertising's biggest manipulations has persuaded urban families that it's perfectly 'normal' to go shopping in a two-tonne truck,” said Andew Simms, from the New Weather Institute.

"But the human health and climate damage done by SUVs is huge and needs to be undone. Just as tobacco advertising was successfully ended, it's time to stop promoting polluting SUV's."

The report has prompted a scathing reaction from the RAC, with Gooding telling the BBC: “We should all choose the right vehicle for the right trip to cut the size of our carbon footprint.

"It is right to question if suburban drivers need a car capable of ploughing over rivers, across fields and up steep hills just to pop to the shops."

But while the RAC seem to be opposing the proliferation of large SUVs in the UK’s biggest cities, others in the industry, including the AA believe that a more measured approach is needed, particularly at a time when most vehicles are greener than ever, even the bigger ones.

Speaking in the same BBC report, Edmund King from the AA said: "Talk of banning the advertising of SUVs is a naïve approach. Some of the cleanest cars come in the SUV shape but are all electric such as the Jaguar I-Pace, Tesla Model X or Hyundai Kona.

"The auto industry is developing a wide range of cleaner, greener vehicles with some of the best in SUV styles," he said. "Not all SUVs are large. Small SUVs are among the most popular cars on sale, because they usually offer the high-set driving position, practicality, safety and looks of more traditional off-roaders, but without the high price, running costs or emissions."

He added: "Cars like the Nissan Juke are often the family car of choice in suburban areas."