Eat grit and die, baby

2011-11-04 09:36

They may be monster guzzlers and ozone-layer destroyers, but SUVs are still the bees’ knees.

If the recent South African car sales figures are anything to go by, then only a minority of consumers seem to give a hoot about going green.

While there are efforts towards reducing the carbon footprint and greening the production of cars with the advent of electric and hybrid models, logically there would seem to be little space left for big bakkies and SUVs.

Audi South Africa’s Rudi Venter says SUV sales in Europe, the US and here at home, are very strong.

“With so much work being done to reduce consumption and emissions on SUVs they no longer have such a bad name,” he says.

“The Q5 remains incredibly popular and the Q7 is a steady seller for us. Still, to this day, we have a six-month waiting list.”

Venter says bigger cars with higher CO² emissions are already being impacted by the need to lower their carbon footprint.

“Things like start-stop, lighter materials, smaller dimensions and more efficient engines have already contributed to the change in opinion on SUVs. But it doesn’t mean they’re less popular,” he says.

Venter says CO² emission taxation will only be effective when the consumer has to pay it more than once.

“As you know, in SA the CO² taxation is once-off and seen as a sin tax. In other countries, there are real benefits and incentives for consumers to drive lower CO² vehicles. So until this changes in SA, I don’t see any major shift in buying behaviour,” says Venter.

“Most of our models are below 140g of CO². However, the reasons for purchase for consumers remain the usual; like design, performance and price, not CO² emissions.”

Toyota’s Leo Kok agrees that SUVs continue to do well.

“Virtually all our SUVs are their segment leaders and are selling very well, including the Fortuner, which sold more than 1 000 units in September alone,” he says.

Kok says the market dictates vehicle choices and SUVs have made significant strides in recent times to become more frugal and emit less CO² emissions.

“Take the Lexus RX range, for example. It has hybrid options that offer significant performance at very low emission levels. With that in mind, I think that fuel consumption has a greater bearing on vehicle choices than CO² emissions in South Africa,” he says.


“We are cognisant of the environmental impact of CO² emissions. To only focus on vehicles is unfair, as the impact of this industry is minuscule compared to aircraft.

“We’ve also noticed from Prius sales that there is a growing number of people who are aware of environmental issues that will change their buying habits.”

BMW’s Edward Makwana says their X5 and X6 models are doing well. “This year, we have sold over 1 200 X5 models, a 3.5% increase compared to last year.”

Makwana says all new X models feature BMW EfficientDynamics technology to lower their impact on the environment.

South Africa still has a long way to go when it comes to thinking green, but without proper infrastructure and incentives for motorists, the guzzlers will continue to roar and take up space.

Big guzzlers & CO2 offenders

1. VW Touareg 3.6-litre V6 FSI 248g/km

2. Porsche Cayenne Turbo 4.8-litre 270g/km

3 . Toyota FJ Cruiser 4-litre 278g/km

4. Chevrolet Lumina SS Ute 6-litre 292g/km

5. BMW X6 M 4.4-litre 325g/km

6. Nissan Navara 4-litre V6 329g/km

7. Range Rover Supercharged 5-litre 348g/km

8. Lexus LX 570 5.7-litre 350g/km

9. Mercedes-Benz G55 AMG 5.5-litre V8 378g/km

10. Audi Q7 6-litre TDI V12 390g/km

Top 10 cheapest local cars

» All these models are under the 120g/km CO2 threshold

1. Chery QQ3 0.8-litre TE R69 900

2. Chevrolet Spark 0.8-litre R82 300

3. Fiat Panda 1.2-litre Young R99 900

4. Geely LC 1.3-litre GS R79 999

5. Tata Indica B-line 1.4-litre LE R89 995

6. Hyundai Atos 1.1-litre GLS R94 000

7. Kia Picanto 1-litre R99 995

8. VW Polo Vivo 1.4-litre R104 065

9. Suzuki Alto 1-litre GL R104 900

10. Toyota Aygo Fresh R106 100

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