In 2018, if the SUV if it had been a nation, they would have been in seventh place among the biggest polluters. These 4×4-like vehicles emit 700 megatons of CO2, which is as much as the UK and the Netherlands combined. Behind the innocent acronym hides a real climate bomb that takes us straight to disaster.
Appearing in the late 2000s on the other side of the Atlantic, the term designates a new generation of more fuel-efficient, heavier and less aerodynamic individual cars: the “ Sport utility vehicle “, which literally means in French “ sport utility vehicle “. Its sleek body looks like that of an off-road vehicle but the SUV it is mainly used in the city, where it has become a sign of distinction and the prerogative of the upper social classes.
Today more than 200 million SUV circulate around the world and the tendency is not to decrease. “ Urban reservoirs are becoming commonplace “, deplore the environmental associations like Greenpeace. With these 2.5-ton giants, it is the whole logic of ostentatious capitalism that starts again for a turning point.
“ A few years ago we were talking “4×4”. But this expression rather conveys an image associated with pollution, with a car not suited to the city, perhaps even with a certain selfishness. Remember the controversial fashion for bull bars, recalls the engineer Mathieu Chassagnet his blog. To wipe out this negative image, the first step was to change your name. 4x4s have become SUV, an Anglicism that frankly doesn’t mean much but seems to have made these 4x4s desirable again. “
The least we can say is that it worked. In 2008, in France, SUV accounted for only 5 % Sales. Twelve years later, after a hype, their market share has risen to 41 % Sales. 68.922 SUV found buyers in September 2020 in France. Their number has increased eightfold in a decade. Customers can now choose among 115 different models, one more powerful than the other, bigger and wider. “ The top five best-selling vehicles on private and professional channels clearly show this hegemony of SUV and sedans “, so it raises The Automobile Journal.
The SUV are the second source of increased emissions of CO2 in the world
In 2020, the SUV Peugeot 3008 and Peugeot 2008 are respectively at 4 and 5is square of the best-selling vehicles in France. “ If nothing is done to reverse this dynamic, the SUV it could represent two-thirds of sales in 2030 “, warns Isabelle Autissier, president of WWF, which he just posted a report on the environmental consequences of this type of car.
Until recently, the climatic cost of these vehicles was still poorly understood, at least not quantified. But now there is no longer any possible doubt: “ The boom in SUV it is incompatible with the achievement of international climate goals “, warn him WWF. Second a report from the International Energy Agency, the SUV were the second source of increased emissions CO2 in the world, after the energy sector, but before heavy industry, the road transport sector or even aviation.
On average, these vehicles consume 15 % more than a standard car and emit 20 % of CO2 additional. They weigh 200 kilos more than classic cars and are also 25 cm long and 10 cm wide. In short, the SUV undo efforts to reduce carbon emissions CO2 of the automotive sector. “ While manufacturers are investing a lot of money in electric cars, the same manufacturers are also putting more and more models on the market. SUV “, points out Fatih Birol, one of the authors of the report of the International Energy Agency.
The WWF wanted to reproduce this work on a French scale. And its results are definitive. In France too, in the last ten years, the 4.3 million SUV put into circulation represent the second source of increased emissions of CO2. This time just behind the airline industry.
“ Instead of making up for the delays of the past, France is accumulating new ones “, writes the High Council for the climate. While the single car still counts for 16 % of greenhouse gas emissions nationwide, the average homologated emissions of new vehicles did not decrease between 2016 and 2019. In question, the lightning-fast increase SUV.
Automotive advertising represents 3.3 billion euros in France every year
Three structural reasons explain this situation: fashion fueled by advertising, the lack of government regulation and the industrial choice of car manufacturers. The rise of SUV it is linked to the media and commercial clamor carried on for ten years by an army of communicators. A study showed that the total budget for automotive advertising in 2018 represented 3.3 billion euros in France, the equivalent of the budget TER from all regions. A little over 1,500 euros are spent on advertising for each car sold.
- Advertising example.
The SUV they have infiltrated all the pages of the main newspapers. In advertisers, we continue to praise them “ comfort “, their “ elegance “or them “ manhood “. And the formation of spirits begins in childhood. We find Playmobil with their Porsche Macan, of the Barbie dolls with them SUV pink.
Considered at first as a rich man’s car, the SUV could be generalized by imitation to all social classes. This is what the WWF. A SUvisation phenomenon is taking place:
The term SUV no longer just means a superior range of luxury and size vehicles XL but a phenomenon that is characterized by the diffusion of versions SUV in all automotive segments, from city cars to sedans. The Renault Captur and the Peugeot 2008 are small examples SUV which replace the Renault Clio and Peugeot 208 city cars. They are cheaper than the SUV of the upper range, but still remain more fuel-efficient than their city car and sedan equivalents “.
Faced with this boom, “ the government remains powerless, says Marie Cheron of the Foundation for Nature and Man. Despite the substantial aid deployed under the recovery plan, the state is not fulfilling its regulatory role “, regrets.
“ The vehicle fleet must move towards lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles “
Until recently, the government and its majority in the National Assembly rejected the idea of a hefty penalty, even though it was part of the Citizens’ Climate Convention proposals. Another buried measure: the end of advertising for polluting vehicles such as SUV. “ However, it is this imagination that needs to be changed, underlines the engineer Mathieu Chassignet. The car fleet must move towards lighter and more fuel-efficient vehicles. “
Unfortunately, the automotive sector is taking another path, away from sobriety. In France, equipment manufacturers and suppliers are shifting the production of light models and strengthening the reliance of industrial sites on SUV. The announced closure of the Bridgestone small car tire plant in Béthune is the latest example. Second the Parisian, “ its production tool was not suited to the boom in SUV “.
Speaking in general, SUV they are much more profitable for builders. Their purchase price is higher than that of a conventional vehicle. Peugeot quickly realized this by quickly positioning itself in this segment: the manufacturer now records record margin rates.
Among environmentalists, we still wonder what strategy to implement to stop this bulldozer. If activists have repeatedly interrupted the World Motor Show in Frankfurtin fact, little action has been taken so far. But awareness of these vehicles’ weather damage could be a game changer. Government inertia on the matter also fuels resistance inclinations: Extinction Rebellion plans to take action against them in the coming months. The brand new La Ronce collective demands that they be deflated en masse on October 14th. In his book How to sabotage a pipelineAndreas Malm was also concerned about these vehicles:
In the cities, SUV they are hated by all who do not lead them ; and in a city as large as London, in a very short space of time, a few dozen people would be enough to make possession of these vehicles simply impossible by systematically scratching their hips with the keys, which would cost several thousand dollars each time. books to their owners. Suppose fifty people each vandalize four cars for a month: 6,000 SUV in a month it breaks down and soon the Chelsea tractors will be gone from our streets.
Source: Gaspard d’Allens for Reporter
Drawing: © Red !/Reporter