SUV sales soared in 2022, experts say, making it much more difficult to meet global climate goals. While buyers flocked to electric SUVs alongside their gas-guzzling counterparts, supersized EVs present their own set of environmental challenges.
When it comes to reducing pollution from passenger vehicles, bigger is not always better. SUVs consume approximately 20% more oil than medium-size cars. Electric SUVs require larger batteries than other EVs, and experts are already warning that there will be insufficient raw materials to meet the skyrocketing demand for lithium-ion batteries.
SUVs outperformed their smaller counterparts in 2022.
While overall car sales fell by about 0.5 percent last year, SUV sales increased by 3 percent. They accounted for 46 percent of global automobile sales. According to a recent International Energy Agency analysis, carbon dioxide emissions from SUVs around the world are on the verge of exceeding an enormous threshold: nearly 1 billion tonnes of CO2 annually (IEA).
For comparison, that is nearly twice as much climate pollution as the UK emitted in 2021. While non-SUV passenger car oil demand remained flat between 2021 and 2022, global SUV oil consumption increased by 500,000 barrels per day.
People are buying electric vehicles in greater numbers, with sales increasing by 60% by 2022. For the first time, electric SUVs accounted for slightly more than half of all EVs sold last year. EVs still emit particle pollution from tyre, brake, and roadway wear and tear, which is extremely harmful to air quality. This type of pollution is more prevalent in heavier vehicles. Regular EVs are already heavier than gas-powered vehicles, and SUVs exacerbate the problem.
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