Last year across Europe, 45% of all cars sold were SUVs. Also last year, average CO2 emissions from new cars fell to below 100g/km for the first time, according to a new report from market researcher Jato Dynamics.
The impressive fall from a 118g/km average to 99g/km, the latter as measured by the tougher WLTP test cycle, has been nudged by government policy both in the European Union and the UK, which copied over the EU 2019/631 regulation on capping emissions to reduce the amount of petrol and diesel burned.
The reason that car makers managed to reduce emissions while still selling so many SUVs is because many have chosen the popular bodystyle to be their key low-emissions model, either plug-in hybrid or pure-electric.
“Car makers were forced to adapt their sales strategies,” said Felipe Muñoz, global analyst for Jato and author of the report. “They pivoted away from traditional segments to focus on the production of EVs and SUVs – the two most profitable segments across Europe.”
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Indeed, the lowest-emitting segment in Europe last year wasn’t city cars or superminis but what Jato classes as mid-size SUVs, with an average CO2 emission of 65.4g/km.
The advantage to car makers is that it’s a globally popular segment allowing simultaneous launches in the US and China, something that’s not possible with smaller cars, which resonate only in Europe.