You’d think we Australians would learn from the USA experience – but nope.
According to a recent Australian Bureau of Statistics report, sales of new Sports Utility Vehicles jumped 4.6% in October 2007 compared to September 2007 and seasonally adjusted. Passenger vehicles *decreased* by 0.2%
While there’s no doubt that many SUV’s are achieving far better fuel economy than they were a few years ago; they are still gas guzzlers. Gas here is now hitting AU$1.50 a litre (around US$5 a gallon), but that doesn’t seem to be discouraging us. What really gets me is the number of these vehicles I see around suburbia and usually with only one person in them.
I’d love an SUV of some type, but not until I can justify it – i.e. if I’m living in an isolated area with poor roads and need to lug or tow stuff around. Even then, a minivan is often still a viable alternative in many cases. I’ve been able to take my loaded up old van into some pretty rough places without much problem and the storage space available has been very, very useful for a number of tasks you wouldn’t dream of performing in shiny new SUV :).
At the risk of offending some of my readers who are suburban SUV drivers – I think the purchase of an SUV is often a bit of a pose; a status statement, rather than a purchase based on functionality. SUV’s aren’t particularly cheap to buy or maintain either; and with the additional emissions and fossil fuel consumption issues, it just doesn’t make much sense. What’s not helping is car manufacturers over here now peddling SUV’s as being green or carbon neutral – so some well meaning consumers are being intentionally led astray.
In some countries, it’s illegal to promote a petrol powered vehicle as being environmentally friendly – hopefully our new government will also introduce similar laws.