I thought this article from the BBC this morning was quite amusing, particularly as it’s come hot on the heels of the recent announcement that Ford was to discontinue making the Mondeo – a sedan that everyone is familiar with and can trace its roots back to the Cortina with a healthy dose of Sierra for good measure.
So what’s a car buyer supposed to do these days? On the one hand you want the load-lugging capabilities and higher-up sitting position of an SUV, but obviously don’t want to be the person who is unnecessarily harming the environment through higher emissions brought about by rolling in a larger and heavier car. But if the likes of Ford aren’t even offering a saloon (or 5-door hatch) isn’t it a bit rich that Steve Gooding from the RAC is suggesting people move away from SUVs in favour of cars that aren’t as big? The facts and figures in the beeb article highlight that the overwhelming majority of SUV owners are in fact city-dwellers and will rarely – if ever – use their vehicles for anything remotely off-roady in nature. This is most certainly irrefutable.
As I’ve written before, there are pros and cons to both an SUV and the vehicle that it nominally replaced – the estate. The estate certainly provides a better driving experience while the SUV offers a trendier status and does have the ability to cope with adverse road conditions a little better. But are consumers ready to forego the style and practicality of an SUV, all in the name of reduced CO2 emissions? It’s entirely possible, but there are a couple of caveats for this to happen.
Firstly, as it stands today there are no purely electric SUVs on the road that offers the range that a traditional diesel-powered SUV offers. While Edmund King from the AA highlights a Tesla Model X as a viable option, the reality is that real world driving won’t get you anywhere near the 500-mile range that is advertised. Meanwhile, a diesel-powered Audi Q7 can give you near enough 700 miles of driving between fill-ups. Mr King also references the Jaguar iPace and the Hyundai Kona. But a minute’s worth of Googling reveals that the range of the iPace is rather pathetic at around 200 miles, while the Kona EV really shouldn’t be thrown into the SUV category at all – it’s a car that is more comparable in size to a VW Golf. Put another way, a load-lugger it ain’t.
While the boss of the RAC doesn’t provide an alternative vehicle to the SUV, the boss of the AA provides options that aren’t at all realistic. Until the various players in the car industry – manufacturers and policy-makers alike – get their ducks in a row, any attempt to ween people off their SUVs will indeed be a slow burn.
So what does a Ford Mondeo owner do today? They will likely keep calm and drive on – precisely what the UK car industry doesn’t want.