Emissions report should prompt fleets to consider role of SUVs, says FleetCheck

Peter Golding
Peter Golding

A new report that indicates SUVs have become a major source of increases in CO2 emissions during the last few years should prompt businesses to consider their role on company fleets.
Fleet software company FleetCheck says that the International Energy Agency document, released last week, shows that growing demand for SUVs was the second largest contributor to increases in global CO2 emissions from 2010-2018.
During that time, SUVs – defined in the report as everything from soft roaders to off-roading 4x4s – saw their global market share increase from 17% to 39% of new car sales, trailing only power generation as an increasing source of CO2.
The document follows analysis from European Federation for Transport and Environment, released in September, that indicated SUVs were causing new car CO2 figures to increase across Europe following years of a steady downward trend.
Peter Golding, managing director, said: “There is often a general assumption in fleet that the company car taxation system effectively means drivers rule out high-CO2 SUVs without managerial intervention. However, this isn’t always the case. Sometimes drivers opt to pay the bill and, anyway, it is potentially a misreading of the situation. Really, it is a matter of what is the CO2 penalty for any SUV over a car of equivalent size and performance?
“The statistics in this new report are pretty shocking and should at least prompt businesses to check, as far as possible, the real-world emissions performance of not just fleet SUVs that they operate but any which are used through affinity leasing and grey fleet.
“There is certainly a need, the numbers suggest, to ascertain whether SUVs that are being operated on company business comply to sensible CSR requirements and even perhaps asking whether they are projecting the right image for your business.”
Peter said that such an exercise could lead to fleets redrawing choice lists or changing the rules covering the kinds of vehicles eligible for company use.
“This may be an unpopular thing to do – there appears to be remarkably little awareness that SUVs are heavier and less aerodynamic than cars, so tend to have worse emissions – but the degree to which some are contributing to CO2 emissions is genuinely shocking.
“Of course, this should not mean automatically removing every SUV from your fleet. Some have emissions figures that are broadly comparable to equivalent cars. However, others certainly don’t, even among models that appear to be among the softest of soft-roaders.
“Businesses need to decide, at a corporate level, whether it is right that vehicles of this type should have a place as company transport and look at whether their policies need to be amended to take account of their findings.”
Peter said it was ironic that public perception and taste had moved against diesel saloons and estates in recent years but that these vehicles were often replaced with petrol SUVs – thinking that, some cases, was percolating through to fleets.
“The diesel emissions scandal was, of course, terrible and it is understandable that there has been a backlash. However, it makes almost no sense that diesel cars are often giving way as everyday transport to petrol SUVs, which would typically bring gains in NOx but then lose out on CO2 and general MPG. There appears to be a lack of public understanding.
“Another potential area where errors could be made is to buy hybrid SUVs in the belief that they will solve emissions issues. Most PHEVs only create emissions gains in quite specific circumstances, when they are mainly used for short-medium trips and kept fully charged. For higher mileage fleet drivers, they are generally poor choices.”