If SUVs were a country, they would rank as the sixth most polluting in the world.
The 330m sport utility vehicles on the roads produced emissions equivalent to the combined national emissions of the UK and Germany last year.
SUVs are larger and heavier than regular cars and use on average 20% more fuel. The increased number of them in 2022 were responsible for a third of the increase in global oil demand.
Purchases of SUVs have soared in recent years, rising from 20% of new cars in 2012 to 46% of all cars last year.
In 2021, the UK’s National Audit Office reported that rising sales of SUVs and an increase in road traffic had cancelled out reductions in CO emissions from electric car sales.
Julia Poliscanova, senior director for vehicles and emobility at European campaign group Transport & Environment, said: “Carmakers are culling small cars in pursuit of profit. VW, Stellantis and BMW have all said they are moving towards selling fewer cars and focusing on more premium SUV models. But larger cars put more pressure on the planet.”