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Automotive’s Surge in SUV Sales is Destroying the Environment

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Mitsubishi SUV Lineup

While the automotive industry has a whole has seen a bit of a slump in sales over the last few months, SUV sales still seem to be on the rise. While this is a great thing for many automakers, it looks like our buying habits are, yet again, destroying the environment.

For some, it’s surprising to hear that our car purchases are destroying the environment, especially considering the improvements made in the electric car industry. Several automakers have announced electric lineups within the next five years, and brands like Tesla are seeing significant success. But not all consumers are ready to jump on the all-electric bandwagon; those sticking with gasoline-powered vehicles (the majority at this point) are jumping on a less-eco-friendly bandwagon: SUVs.

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SUVs are gas guzzlers. Convenient? Of course. They seat an average family of four to five people comfortably, with extra leg, head, and elbow room, alongside significant cargo space in the rear. For most everyday consumers, there is no downside. But for our climate, there is a very, very big downside.

According to The New York Times, SUVs are, on average, 30% less efficient than sedans or smaller compact cars. This is no surprise, considering the power it takes to move larger cargo. While we are making improvements toward a hybrid and all-electric future, it’s far more common to see a hybrid sedan than a hybrid SUV. That’s not to say they don’t exist; Mitsubishi released the Outlander Plug-in Hybrid late last year. However, hybrid SUVs are not commonplace just yet.

“Crossovers have also been harmful to overall emissions goals,” said Hiroko Tabuchi, a contributor at The New York Times. “Market research shows that many first-time buyers of crossovers had previously driven cleaner, smaller sedans.”

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Not only are consumers demanding family-friendly vehicles in the United States, but dealerships and automakers have strong incentives to sell them. SUVs and crossovers “tend to be higher-end offerings with luxury trimmings,” said Hiroko. In short, SUVs make sellers more money. In fact, most automakers are seeing losses on electric vehicle sales.

SUVs have become a staple for American families, so it’s difficult to stray away from them completely. However, as automakers make their way into electric lineups, we may see more hybrid and electric SUVs and crossovers making it onto the showroom floor.

News Source: The New York Times