Observe, enlighten and decipher the evolution
of consumption patterns in France and abroad
Section 2 - SUVs, a stunning success story

The electric option relieves some tensions

4 minutes of reading

Consumption alert

As we have already seen, SUVs are not considered fuel-efficient. However, fuel consumption is a topic of concern even for SUV owners, at a time when petrol and diesel prices are soaring. 34% of owners cite fuel consumption as the main factor that caused them to hesitate before buying an SUV, a sentiment expressed most strongly by the over55s (Fig. 20).

This is a particularly delicate subject in the emerging countries, but also in Italy and Spain. Respondents in the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Japan and Norway, where the electric car is king, are less troubled by this issue. However, this concern appears to be grounded primarily in financial, rather than environmental interests. Only 23% of SUV owners were hesitant to buy such a vehicle because of its potential environmental impact.




The magic of electricity helps the SUV’s cause

But if there has to be an environmental impact, motorists are clear on how to reduce it. 77% believe that producing electric or hybrid SUVs would help achieve this goal. In the emerging nations, as well as in Poland, this is a solution that prompts even more enthusiasm, with close to 90% voicing this opinion in some countries and an even greater proportion in others. Conversely, the response in countries such as Belgium, France and Germany is a little more ambivalent, with less than 60% favouring this approach (Fig. 21). Interestingly, in previous editions of L’Observatoire Cetelem de l’Automobile we had already seen these three countries clustered together when it came to environmental issues. This clustering stems from their maturity regarding this topic and their awareness that environmental impact is not linked purely to energy consumption.




Electric SUVs – Combustion engine city cars: 1-0 

Electrical power again demonstrates its superior environmental credentials when electric SUVs are pitched against combustion engine city cars. This is something of a mismatch, with the former receiving an average of 71% of the vote and the latter 29% (Fig. 22). Here, the geographical divide revealed earlier reappears, with respondents in the emerging nations wholeheartedly supporting electric SUVs and the aforementioned trio, along with Norway, remaining more sceptical. Germany is the only country in which combustion engine city cars prevail over electric SUVs, while France is just 1 point away from producing the same result. The Iberian peninsula also stands apart, with Spain and Portugal producing scores similar to those of the emerging nations.




The response from manufacturers aligns with expectations

The growing interest expressed by motorists towards electric vehicles also prompts them to hold a rather favourable view of carmakers’ efforts to offer more hybrid or electric cars. According to 83% of those surveyed, this shows that manufacturers are keen to prepare for the future. That means anticipating future traffic restrictions in cities, carbon neutrality targets and the gradual phasing out of combustion vehicles.  Once again, with the exception of Spain, Italy and Poland, the Western countries are slightly less likely to be of this belief. An almost identical percentage of motorists (82%) believe that manufacturers are relying on these types of vehicle to meet the increasingly stringent environmental targets set for them (Fig. 23). On this topic, the answers of the different countries are more homogeneous than for the previous item.




While 78% are also of the opinion that manufacturers are catering for the expectations of motorists, this relatively positive consensus is clouded by two counterpoints. 79% are of the belief that carmakers are using these vehicles as an excuse to raise prices and 76% believe that they are a way of easing their conscience. Here, the traditional geographical dichotomy collapses, giving way to clusters we have not seen before. The Brazilians, the French and the Poles are united in denouncing what they perceive as greed on the part of manufacturers. Meanwhile, the Japanese and Chinese are more charitable in their attitudes. The French, together with the Spanish, Turks, Brazilians, Poles and Japanese, are the most likely to condemn manufacturers for cynically seeking to ease their conscience. The Norwegians, Dutch and Portuguese, on the other hand, are less suspicious in this regard.

The SUV goes electric

While the automotive market has been enriched by “pure electric players” that have designed and launched their own SUVs, the next three years will see many vehicles of this type from other carmakers receive the fully electric treatment.





Sub-section 7
Wide ranging appeal
Although, as we have pointed out, the term SUV and its definition are based on a somewhat ambiguous identity, with boundaries that shift from one country to the next and according to whether or not
Sub-section 9
Today’s success is set to continue
The record sales achieved by SUVs make it hard to deny that these vehicles have been a runaway success. The results of L’Observatoire Cetelem de l’Automobile 2022 clearly support this point. SUV