Emissions battle hits SUV roadblock

SUVs could be the fly in the ointment for car fleets striving to meet emissions targets.

Most SUVs perform 10-20% worse than cars when it comes to emissions and fuel economy, and although they’re the best-selling type car in the UK, a lack of hybrid and electric alternatives only exacerbates the problem.

That’s the view of Chevin Fleet Solutions, whose managing director Ashley Sowerby said, ‘SUVs have proliferated in all areas of the car market and continue to grow in popularity. There is almost no sector where they are not well represented. Today, you can even buy an SUV convertible.

‘Many drivers like SUVs a great deal thanks to their commanding driving position, their road presence and the fact that they are perceived as something more interesting than a family hatch or saloon. This puts a lot of pressure on human resources departments and fleets to add these vehicles to their choice lists but it does create a general problem. SUVs are heavier and less aerodynamic than their conventional car equivalents and, as a result, tend to use more fuel and have high emissions.’

The result, Ashley said, is that some fleets were not pushing cost and emissions targets as low as they could if their drivers favoured hatchbacks and saloons.

He continued, ‘One solution is to track the cost and environmental impact of these vehicles in the real world using fleet management software, so that you can present information on a factual basis. At least then, policy decisions about which vehicles to offer can be made with high quality information to hand.

‘However, it certainly seems that the popularity of SUVs presents a genuine conundrum for responsible fleets. It’s clear that the industry needs to focus on how to achieve best fleet efficiency amidst this trend.’