The sports pickup truck, or SUV, has pummelled its way to car dominance with a heady combination of convenience and marketing force, expanding from the central belt of the US to a younger breed of eager purchasers in China to rule even the twisty, frontage roads of Europe. Because there are massive automobiles that have ruled the planet.

The quick ascent of the sport utility vehicle (SUV) to the position of the world’s most popular automobile has resulted in widespread changes that are just now becoming apparent, such as in urban lifestyle, air quality, pedestrian safety, and parking.

A growing body of evidence suggests, however, that SUVs are having their greatest effect within the context of the climate catastrophe, where their meteoric rise in popularity is giving rise to a massive new source of emissions that are heating up the world.


The International Energy Agency (IEA) uncovered a discovery last year that surprised even IEA staff. Over the last decade, SUVs have been the second-biggest contributor to the worldwide increase in carbon dioxide emissions, surpassing shipping, aviation, heavy industries, and even trucks.

A massive and rising cause of the climate issue has crept up nearly undetected around us, despite the efforts of climate activists to throw themselves in the route of new oil pipelines and heap enough guilt on traveling that flygskam, or “flight shame,” has spread from Sweden throughout the globe.

The increasing popularity of sport utility vehicles worldwide complicates attempts to limit emissions, said Fatih Birol, director general of the International Energy Agency.

In 2019, SUV sales surged beyond 40% of the global market, a previously unachievable level. More than 200 million sport utility vehicles (SUVs) now roam the world’s streets, car parks, and basements, eight times as many as decades ago. While SUV sales have increased steadily over the previous decade in the UK, in Germany, last year, SUVs accounted for 30 percent of all new vehicle registrations.

SUVs, which combine the bulk of an adult rhinoceros with the aerodynamics of a fridge, are more energy-intensive to operate and produce more carbon dioxide than smaller vehicles. This has the effect of canceling out the automotive industry’s climate gains from increased fuel efficiency and the emergence of the electric vehicle market.


The sport utility vehicle (SUV) has evolved from a powerhouse that carried tools or was used for rough off-road driving to becoming the standard for families idling about the suburbs and even for those in the heart of densely crowded cities. The Jeep Cherokee of 1984, a boxy, utilitarian product often regarded as the first SUV, produced descendants ranging from the tiny Kia Sportage to the luxurious Mercedes ML, demonstrating how the style and price of SUVs broadened to suit all preferences.

Although half of all trips taken in the United States are banal trips of under 3 kilometers to run errands rather than elevated excursions in the Rocky Mountains, the sector found that American motorists enjoy the noble driving position of SUVs, in addition to the ability and the reassuring feel of protection their bulk offers. Many Americans find the rugged, self-reliant image that SUVs project to be appealing.

According to Stephanie Brinley, a senior automotive researcher at IHS Markit, “pretty much everybody now desires one.” “Sedans are so last century; SUVs are the new family cars of today.” Both millennials and boomers find them appealing. Automotive manufacturers recognized early on that Americans value portability highly.


Seeing advertisements for SUVs that depict a massive car-truck racing through city streets to take its owner to a yoga class or to get a coffee no longer comes off as shocking. Ford was so proud of the reintroduction of the Bronco—famous for being the vehicle in which O.J. Simpson evaded a convoy of police vehicles in 1994—that company released an eight-part audio series.

According to Harvey Miller, professor and head of the Center for Urban and Regional Analysis at The Ohio State University, “car corporations looked at characteristics that people appreciate, such as macho-ness, toughness, and security of the family, and exploited that.” These sport utility vehicles are named after mountains and other exotic locations you’ll never see. They engineered the market to trigger emotional responses in us.

We don’t purchase vehicles here,” Bloomberg’s Nat Bullard tweeted recently. We purchase SUVs with truck chassis and drive them like cars, and we buy trucks and treat them like passenger vehicles. Without a shadow of a doubt, the United States has become an SUV country, a shift with far-reaching effects on urban areas and the global environment.

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