Global sales of SUVs have hit new records in 2021 both in terms of the numbers sold and their share of the market.
A new report from the International Energy Agency says SUVs are expected to account for 45% of all new car sales this year.
The IEA says there will be more than 35 million new registrations of SUVs in 2021 and "If SUVs were an individual country, they would rank sixth in the world for absolute emissions in 2021, emitting over 900 million tonnes of CO2."
It says global fleet of SUVs has increased rapidly, from less than 50 million in 2010 to around 320 million in 2021 – equivalent to the total car fleet of Europe.
SUVs rank among the top causes of energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions growth over the last decade. In 2021 alone, the global fleet of SUVs increased by over 35 million, driving up annual emissions by 120 million tonnes of CO2
The shift towards electric vehicles has been outpaced by the shift towards SUVs and the IEA says there would be need to be twice as many EVs on the road as there is now to offset the rise in emissions caused by the growth in popularity of SUVs.
Electric SUVs are becoming more popular and in 2021, around 55% of the electric car models on the market were SUVs, up from 45% two years ago. For the first time ever, the electrification ratio of SUVs matches the electrification ratio of non-SUV cars. In both the United States and the European Union, e-SUVs are expected to account for more than 55% of all electric car sales in 2021.
But 98% of all SUVs on the roads are powered by petrol and diesel and they use 20% more energy than a medium sized car.
The International Energy Agency also points out that electric SUVs not only consume more energy but are also equipped with much larger batteries (70 kilowatt hours) than the average battery electric car (50 kilowatt hours) which drives up demand for critical minerals.
The IEA notes that "some governments have already started introducing relevant measures, such as France and Germany, which have put a tax on large and high-emissions cars like SUVs. Additional policies targeting SUVs will help to deliver a sustainable and low-carbon road passenger sector."