8 September 2004

SUVs are either loved or hated by Britons – that’s if a recent survey is any reliable indication. Despite growing sales and an increasing choice of models, the current media backlash against the jacked-up off-roaders has a firm basis in public opinion. The YouGov survey has revealed that 80 per cent of those of us who don’t own an 4x4 wouldn’t consider buying one, and that 60 per cent of us would like them banned from urban areas or specifically taxed.

KPMG, a global business adviser, sampled opinions from 2131 respondents, 136 of them owning an SUV. As much as 61 per cent of them would be supportive of an additional road tax on SUVs – 70 per cent among Londoners – and 56 per cent would like to see the cars banned from major city centres.

The survey comes after weeks of speculation that Ken Livingstone may be about to crack down on London’s 4x4 drivers with a £5 supplement to the congestion charge. French SUV drivers could be similarly discouraged to enter city centres, to the point of banning the vehicles completely in Paris. In Sweden, meanwhile, the government is being lobbied to put an equivalent £4400 tax on the cars. Mike Steventon, spokesman for KPMG, commented on ‘the need for better communication of the plus points of these vehicles’ to what he called ‘an actively sceptical public’.

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