Thursday, June 6th, 2013 - Roy Morgan Research

According to the latest Roy Morgan State of the Nation report, more than three quarters of the population aged 14+ believe that if we don’t act now, we’ll never control our environmental problems. So why the steep growth in sales of large SUVs?

According to the latest Roy Morgan State of the Nation report, more than three quarters (76%) of the population aged 14+ believe that if we don’t act now, we’ll never control our environmental problems. Furthermore, 45.3% of Australians say they’d seriously consider buying a hybrid (petrol and electric) vehicle. So far, so green.

Taking a closer look at Australians’ environmental attitudes as of March 2013, however, a slightly different picture emerges. The proportion of Aussies who agree that acting now is crucial to controlling our environmental problems has declined substantially since 2002, when it was 88.8%. And a growing minority (34.1%, up from 23% 12 years ago) believes threats to the environment are exaggerated.

And hybrid vehicles? While consideration rates are high, current ownership is low. Of all Australian motorists aged 18+, 0.4% currently drive a hybrid vehicle and 0.3% are intending to buy one in the next four years.

So what are we driving?

While Australians’ interest in hybrids doesn’t appear to have made much impact in terms of sales, there has been a move away from larger passenger cars in the last eight years towards smaller models (23.9%, up from 19.9%) and SUVs (18.5%, up from 9.1%).

SUV growth has been especially robust, primarily among the medium and large SUV categories. In the last five years, the number of Australians driving large SUVs has increased from 694,000 to 1,149,000, with those driving medium SUVs rising almost as steeply, from 679,000 to 1,077,000.

Base: Australian drivers aged 18+. Source:Roy Morgan Single Source (Australia), 12 month moving average.

Norman Morris, Industry Communications Director, Roy Morgan Research, says:

“Although more than 45% of Australians say they’d seriously consider buying a hybrid vehicle, the actual ownership of hybrids accounts for a negligible portion of the driving population. However, the move towards small cars (the most popular vehicle segment) is encouraging from an environmental perspective.

“Of greater concern is the fact that ownership of larger SUVs is rising. The popularity of these hulking, heavy vehicles is at odds with Australians’ widespread belief in the importance of acting now to save the environment. Large SUVs use more fuel than smaller vehicles, therefore emitting more carbon dioxide. Even the diesel-fuelled alternatives are harmful to the environment.

“Could former PM Paul Keating have foreseen this situation back in 2002, when he expressed his opposition to these vehicles in no uncertain terms?”

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According to the latest Roy Morgan State of the Nation report, more than three quarters of the population aged 14+ believe that if we don’t act now, we’ll never control our environmental problems. So why the steep growth in sales of large SUVs?

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