Are electric SUVs a necessary evil for the transition to electric mobility?

The current market is full of models, electric and combustion, that tend to the SUV format, known as responding to the acronym Sports Utility Vehicle (sports utility vehicle). A format that has become very popular but which, however, not best suited for a car. They are usually large (although there are many SUVs in the smaller segments), heavy, with right angles and therefore very inefficient in aerodynamic terms. They often offer an unfavorable size/livability ratio. That is, they meet all the requirements of the poor student in terms of energy efficiency and ecology. However, in the transition to electrification it is the most used format, Are they a necessary evil that will give way to more logical and efficient electric vehicles?

That SUVs are inconvenient energetically is irreproachable. So far the theory, because the practice is slightly different. the suv is the most popular format among buyers and all manufacturers offer at least one model in each of the segments in which they work. Better or worse, these machines are often their best-selling products. Among the questions that remain in the air is whether manufacturers offer SUVs because of their high demand or whether customers buy them because manufacturers offer them. The chicken or the egg…

But what is an SUV?

The notion of SUV has come changing over time. Previously it corresponded to off-road vehicles or 4×4, tall, boxy, with an unattractive appearance. But things are changing and now they offer hybrid lines between a saloon, a minivan and an SUV, although it is precisely this last condition that they almost never meet, since they can rarely go much further than a dirt track in good condition. .

Nowadays it is difficult to know in which category to pigeonhole a Hyundai Ioniq 5, a Kia EV6, a Tesla Model Y or even a Dacia Spring. Comments on forums and engine websites create controversy and it becomes difficult to fit these models in one category. Basically everyone agrees that they attack diverse formats.

Ioniq 5 Kia EV6 station e-pit
The Kia EV6 and Ioniq 5 are not easy to pigeonhole into a single format.

With all this, they are a reality in the market. SUVs, SUVs and crossovers are very popular and this trend also affects the electric car market a lot. The current offer is oversized. No need to take an exhaustive inventory: Audi e-tron, Audi Q4, Mercedes EQ(x), Hyundai Kona, Kia e-Niro, MG Marvel R, Ford Mustang Mach-E, BMW iX, Škoda Enyaq iV, Nissan Ariya, These are just a few of the more well-known examples of a market that seems to be in favor with customers. A rebound that is confirmed in figures, since the SUVs (thermal and electric) represented 43% of new vehicle sales by the end of 2021.

SUV and electric, a marriage of interest

The electric SUV is no exception to this trend that makes it the new family car, perceived as more practical, more comfortable and, perhaps wrongly, more reassuring. A role that was previously fulfilled by sedans and which later shifted to minivans, a format that today has practically fallen into disuse.

SUVs are understood as cars for quiet and calm use, very much in line with electrical conduction, which requires careful handling of the accelerator to reduce consumption due to autonomy limitations and recharging when driving with a certain agility and sportiness. Drivers have gradually moved from a passion car to a practical car. Efficient or not, SUVs correspond to this new form of mobility to which the “electrical conductors” aspire.

SUVs (thermal and electric) represented 43% of new vehicle sales at the end of 2021.

There is also a technical reason for the SUV format to succeed as an electric car. Due to their size, weight and volume, batteries are easier to place in them, since it is easy to mount them on the base of a tall and large vehicle. This reduces the ratio between the size of the battery and the size of the vehicle. In fact, it is easier to put 100 kWh of battery in a Tesla Model X than 50 kWh in a Renault Zoe. And there is also an economic reason: profit margins are greater the larger the vehicle.

Then, Is the SUV the obligatory step for a transition of consumers to the electric car? In any case, it is perhaps an essential step before massively orienting the market towards vehicles most suitable for the energy transition and therefore lighter, more aerodynamic and more energy efficient.

United States, a bad example

The American tradition of large, heavy, inefficient combustion vehicles with excessive consumption has also been transferred to the electric transition. Against all odds, and against certain prejudices, Americans, fans of great mechanics and gigantic V8 pick-ups, are also willing to switch to electricity, as long as the offer includes vehicles that correspond to your way of life. And it seems that the formula is succeeding: Tesla Cybertruck, Ford F-150 Lightning, electric Hummer or Rivian R1T (this one is somewhat more contained in dimensions) have a very large order book.

This is the electric SUV from Sony.
It is possible that what is called an SUV today is just the symbol of a profound change in the automobile and that this denomination will disappear with massive electrification.

SUVs of the future

While what is currently known as an SUV is serving to give the public what they want but electrified, many are calling for a more radical and faster energy transition. It may be that what is called an SUV today is just the symbol of a profound change in the automobile and that this denomination disappears with the massive electrification. In any case, governments will not hesitate to direct the market, for example by creating taxes based on the weight (and footprint) of private cars, taxes that, unlike the current ones, will also affect electric cars.

It is possible that soon everything that weighs more than two tons and measures more than five meters will become a collector’s item.

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