3 march 2018

The World Is Embracing S.U.V.s. That’s Bad News for the Climate.

By HIROKO TABUCHI. The New York TimesMARCH 3, 2018

It’s the car of the future. It’s taking off in markets all over in the world.

The electric vehicle? Hardly. It’s the S.U.V., the rugged, off-road gas-guzzler that America invented and the world increasingly loves to drive.

Spurred by rising incomes and lower gas prices, drivers in China, Australia and other countries are ditching their smaller sedans for bigger rides at a rapid pace. For the first time, S.U.V.s and their lighter, more carlike cousins known as “crossovers” made up more than one in three cars sold globally last year, almost tripling their share from just a decade ago, according to new figures from the auto research firm JATO Dynamics.

“Everyone is jumping on S.U.V.s,” said Matthew Weiss, JATO Dynamics’ president for North America.

The ascent of S.U.V.s and crossovers is already slowing progress in reining in emissions from the world’s cars and trucks, major emitters of the gases that are warming the planet. Transportation accounts for an estimated 14 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, with cars and trucks making up the biggest share.

Between 2005 and 2008, the average fuel economy of new cars worldwide improved by about 1.8 percent a year, according to the United Nations’ Global Fuel Economy Initiative. But since then, that pace has slowed to 1.1 percent in 2015, the latest data available, far below the near 3-percent clip needed to simply stabilize emissions from the world’s car fleet.

There are no signs that trend has improved since then, said Anup Bandivadekar, who heads the passenger vehicle program at the International Council on Clean Transportation, a nonprofit think tank affiliated with the United Nations initiative. “It’s making progress in fuel economy increasingly difficult,” he said.

The global S.U.V. boom is a roadblock in the march toward cleaner cars that has been aided by advances in fuel-saving technology and hybrid or electric vehicles. Compared to smaller cars, S.U.V.s are less efficient, generally by about 30 percent.


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