Fleet News

Carmakers hit back at ‘gas guzzler’ criticism

UK vehicle manufacturers have hit back at claims that city-based 4x4 drivers are ‘crass and irresponsible’.

In an interview with The Times, Energy Minister Malcolm Wicks is reported as saying: ‘There is crass irresponsibility in some of the larger monstrosities people drive around suburbia and in London. We have to move against this kind of thing.’

Wicks is leading a Government Energy Review, which is considering long-term energy needs and has transport fuel as a key topic.

In response, a statement issued by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) said it was concerned about comments that are based on ‘unhelpful stereotypes and inaccurate statistics’.

A spokesman said: ‘Some have suggested that one in five new models sold in London is a 4x4/SUV. This is wholly inaccurate.

‘In 2005, new registrations of 4x4/SUV vehicles in London totalled 11,445 units – 6.3% of the capital’s total new car market. That’s around one in 14.’

Last month, so-called gas guzzlers were targeted in an environmental Commons Select Committee which suggested that the Vehicle Excise Duty system be revamped, with stiff penalties for drivers opting out of company cars into high-emission vehicles (Fleet NewsNet, February 16).

It claimed the relatively low cost of the annual road tax was causing a ‘leakage’ among executives, who are opting out into cars with higher emissions, rather than staying in a traditional company car scheme and picking cleaner vehicles.

The latest war is 4x4 drivers who drive such vehicles around large cities and do not use them for genuine off-road purposes.

The SMMT added: ‘New car carbon dioxide emissions, among other tailpipe emissions, are falling year-on-year, in every segment of the market, from superminis to luxury cars.

‘In the 4x4/SUV segment, average CO2 emissions have fallen by 14.6% in the last six years alone. That’s better than the average 10% drop across all segments of the new car market.’

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