DRIVERS of gas-guzzling SUVs could save Britain at least 8.7 million tonnes of carbon emissions each year – if they were to switch to an electric vehicle, according to experts.
Analysis has found average carbon emissions from SUVs are nearly 10 per cent higher than the average car.
In total – the 4.2 million petrol and diesel SUVs on UK roads will emit around 8.7 million tonnes of carbon dioxide per year, when driven an average of 7,400 miles – the equivalent of 5.2 million return flights from London to New York.
The data was compiled by energy company EDF to highlight its GoElectric tariff, after a study of 2,000 adults found only 53 per cent of SUV drivers are considering a switch to electric – despite more than six in 10 admitting it would be better for the environment.
Philippe Commaret from EDF said: “SUVs have grown in popularity in recent years, with drivers attracted by the style and space they offer.
“But it seems that drivers are unaware that they can cut their carbon footprint without compromising on body type.
“With a wide range of popular SUV styles available in EV models, making the switch can allow drivers to do their bit for the environment, and help Britain achieve Net Zero, without compromising on design or comfort.”
The research also found that despite SUVs being the second largest cause of the global rise in CO₂ emissions over the past decade, their impact on the environment is only the eighth most important consideration for drivers when purchasing a new model.
It lies behind the cost to run (51 per cent), size of the boot (48 per cent) and whether it runs off petrol, diesel or is a hybrid (47 per cent).
In comparison, only a quarter (26 per cent) of SUV drivers would consider whether the model is an EV prior to purchasing.
The main barriers for drivers of petrol and diesel vehicles to going electric include concerns about the costs of purchasing an EV (70 per cent) and limited access to charge points (63 per cent).
Others have concerns around lengthy charging times and the cost of installing a home charging point.
Despite these worries, 53 per cent who own EVs are positive about their experiences, with 53 per cent claiming that EVs perform much better than a petrol/diesel vehicle.
And 51 per cent can fully charge their vehicle for under a fiver overnight using a home charge-point.
Of those petrol and diesel SUV drivers who are looking to make the switch to electric, 53 per cent would do so in a bid to tackle climate change, while a third (33 per cent) believe going electric will save them money in the long run.
The research also found almost half of British motorists (48 per cent) don’t realise that the equivalent SUV is available from certain manufacturers in both petrol, diesel and EV models.
And only a fifth (19 per cent) of SUV drivers, polled via OnePoll, are aware that the cost to run an EV SUV can be less than running a petrol or diesel equivalent model, when taking fuel and leasing costs into consideration.
Philippe Commaret added: “As Britain’s biggest generator of zero carbon electricity, we’re committed to making it as easy as possible for motorists to make the switch to an EV.
“By charging using our 100 per cent zero carbon GoElectric35 tariff, drivers can reduce the annual CO2 emissions from their vehicle to zero.”