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Tuesday, March 28, 2023

SUVs are more popular than ever in Australia – but there is a downside

It appears like SUVs are all over the place – and information displaying they made up greater than 50% of recent automobiles offered final 12 months backs that up

SUVs are all over the place in Australia. Greater than 50% of recent automobiles offered within the nation final 12 months have been SUVs, a share that has nearly doubled over the previous decade. In a latest survey, greater than 40% of Australianswho owned a automobile manufactured since 2021 had an SUV.

So why are SUVs getting extra well-liked? There are a selection of things, together with higher visibility and ease of getting out and in of automobiles. Laws in international locations just like the US may additionally encourage producers to create extra SUVs.

Tony Weber, the CEO of the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI), factors out that bigger automobiles are extra versatile, in a position to “do the grocery run, carry the instruments and tow the boat on the weekend”.

However the growing variety of bigger automobiles could possibly be problematic, partially resulting from elevated dangers to pedestrians and different drivers.

“In the event you go from a medium SUV to a big SUV … you’re really growing the chance of great damage to different highway customers by about one other third,” says Prof Stuart Newstead from the Monash College Accident Analysis Centre. “They’re really the worst class of auto for being run into.”

Peer-reviewed American research have additionally discovered bigger automobiles are disproportionately probably to injure and kill pedestrians and could also be partly accountable for latest will increase in pedestrian crash deaths.

SUVs dominate the brand new automobile market

SUVs are so well-liked that the class is now generally break up into 5 – from “mild” SUVs, just like the Toyota Yaris Cross, to “higher giant” ones, just like the Toyota LandCruiser. The Ford Everest – a “giant” SUV – not too long ago gained Wheels automobile of the 12 months, an Australian automotive award.

Two-thirds of recent automobile gross sales in Australia final 12 months have been SUVs, 4WDs or mild business automobiles – a class that features utes. These classes additionally accounted for eight of the highest 10 bestselling fashions in 2022, in keeping with FCAI information.

“SUV and lightweight business automobile gross sales have risen from 45.3% of whole automobile gross sales in 2012 to 76.8% in 2022. The best-selling automobile in Australia every year since 2016 has been a ute,” Weber mentioned.

Solely two automobiles within the high 10 aren’t SUVs, 4WDs or utes

A decade in the past the top-selling automobile was the Toyota Corolla. The Corolla nonetheless makes the highest 10, however different iconic sedans and hatchbacks, just like the Holden Commodore, Ford Falcon and Mazda 3, are lengthy gone.

They’ve been changed by a variety of 4WDs, SUVs and utes. Simply two of the highest 10 bestselling automobiles in 2022 don’t match into these classes.

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4 of the highest 10 bestselling fashions final 12 months have been utes, probably partially resulting from tax breaks out there for enterprise homeowners. The Ford Ranger – which gained a unique automobile of the 12 months award this 12 months – was the second hottest automobile in 2022. The Toyota HiLux, one other ute, was the most well-liked.

However the growing dimension of bigger automobiles results in a a lot greater hole in weight between SUVs and different automobiles or pedestrians, Newstead says.

“So the [Ford] Everest is a really huge automobile, properly over two tonnes. Constructed on a ladder chassis just like the Ford Ranger. And people automobiles sometimes aren’t nice once they run into different issues.

Aerial view of crossroads in Melbourne
Extra bigger automobiles on the highway might improve dangers to pedestrians and different drivers, consultants say. {Photograph}: Jackal Pan/Getty Photographs

“These automobiles are sometimes problematic for unprotected highway customers, like pedestrians, as a result of not solely are they fairly excessive and stuff, however once they do hit a pedestrian they’ll are inclined to drive excessive of them relatively than [the pedestrian going] over the bonnet, as a result of they’re so tall.”

Technological enhancements like automated breaking and roll stability management have improved security in different areas for greater automobiles. However bigger automobiles proceed to be overrepresented in “again over” crashes, when an individual is struck by a reversing automobile. Ongoing analysis on the Accident Analysis Centre discovered similar-sized automobiles because the Everest have been “not that a lot better” at defending passengers than medium-sized SUVs just like the Mazda CX-5, that are about 500kg lighter.

A 2022 survey of automobile patrons by insurer Funds Direct suggests the recognition is being pushed by specific age teams. Simply 9.5% of automobiles owned by 18 to 24-year-olds are SUVs (sedans and hatchbacks have been greater than 80%), however they’re 36% of automobiles owned by 35 to 44-year-olds.

36.1% of 35-44 12 months olds had an SUV

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