S UV kills more people in accidents than other cars. They are more polluting than other cars. SUVs must be banned from the city centers of this republic. An extra high tax rate should penalize SUVs. And anyway: Anyone who dares to buy such a hell of a machine doesn't deserve better anyway. That is roughly the public opinion, if one believes the current representation in many media and social networks. No other vehicle segment currently has a worse disrepute, not even high-powered sports cars. We asked ourselves, loosely based on the Chinese philosopher Sunzi (“Know your enemy”): What exactly is an SUV?
There is no SUV from Porsche
According to the Federal Motor Transport Authority, there are currently 3,144,333 SUVs in Germany, that is 6.7 percent of all registered cars. Compared to 2018, this corresponds to an increase of 19.9 percent. Cars like a Fiat Sedici or a Citroën C4 Cactus are included in this list. BMW X3, Porsche Cayenne and Macan or Jaguar E-Pace, on the other hand, run in the KBA statistics as off-road vehicles and not as SUVs. A Ford Explorer or Lada Niva, on the other hand, are SUVs and not off-road vehicles. Huh? We know that an SUV is not generally synonymous with an “off-road vehicle”. But what are the explicit differences?
We resolve: A car is only referred to as an off-road vehicle (type M1G) if ...
- the vehicle has at least one front and one rear axlethat are designed so that they can be driven simultaneously, whereby the drive of an axle can be switched off
- the vehicle has at least one differential lock (or comparable device)
- the vehicle can overcome a gradient of 30 percent
- the front overhang angle is at least 25 degrees
- the rear overhang angle is at least 20 degrees
- the ramp angle is at least 20 degrees
- the ground clearance under the front axle is at least 180 millimeters
- the ground clearance under the rear axle is at least 180 millimeters
- the ground clearance between the axles is at least 200 millimeters
SUV is used for statistical analysis
Of the last six criteria, the car only has to meet five in order to be classified as an off-road vehicle - and once the criteria have been met, the car in question is eliminated also no longer an SUV. KBA press spokesman Stephan Immen told auto motor und sport: “We refer to vehicles with an off-road character as SUVs. This means that their shape is based on off-road vehicles, are slightly higher and have a higher entrance. There are no binding parameters for definition, but the “SUV” segment is only used for statistical purposes. ”That means: not every car is an SUV, but every SUV is a car - and a completely normal one with M1 type approval. In other words, a vehicle that is designed for passenger transport, has at least four wheels and a maximum of eight seats in addition to the driver's seat.
Floor space, consumption or spare wheel
So if a politician the next time he demands a special tax for SUVs, he should be asked what he means by that - because there is no political definition. Do you mean cars that have a spare wheel on the outside of the rear? Which have plastic planking on the side? Those that can only be accessed via a step? 'SUV' means that the car has oneMust have average consumption of more than 10 liters per 100 kilometers? Or a drag coefficient north of 0.35? Does the floor space have to be more than 3.5 m²? We don't even want to start with national differences. Because what we generally consider a large SUV is, at most, a compact car with good tires in the USA.
You will surely recognize that many supposed criteria immediately include other vehicles, which would then either have to be exempted with a special permit or disappear from the scene. For example, a Ford Ecosport - according to KBA clearly an SUV - with the basic 1.0 EcoBoost engine uses 5.5 liters of gasoline per 100 kilometers and emits 125 grams of CO2 per kilometer. The Giulia from Alfa Romeo - listed as middle class by KBA - swallows an average of seven liters with the basic gasoline and blows 162 grams of CO2 per kilometer into the air. Another example? While the ground clearance of a VW T-ROC (SUV) is 161 millimeters, the Audi A4 Allroad Quattro (middle class) has 180.
calibration mark on wheels
In order to define an SUV, we would need a reference car - the original automobile meter. A calibration mark on four wheels, if you will. A car that characterizes other vehicles by deviating from their own values. And even then, it has to be a combination or minimum number of deviations in a certain direction that classify a car as an SUV. For example, ground clearance, fuel consumption and drag coefficient must deviate from the benchmark by at least a factor X upwards. However, including decorative elements such as an indicated underrun protection in the equation makes little sense. After all, attaching a carbon spoiler lip doesn't turn a Volvo S60 into a sports car.
But who builds “THE car” for us? Could it be a Golf because it's a bestseller and so wonderfully normal? Or is it a Mercedes because they invented the car? Maybe be easy tooStandard values defined for all relevant variables - but by whom? A committee of manufacturers or politicians? Or even from the trade press? And what does it look like everywhere else in the world? As you can see, there have been more questions than answers to date.
That the usefulness of an expansive and, in case of doubt, manageable energy-efficient SUV in narrow city centers is a great argument , understood. But even with a look at the electromobility that many gasoline opponents are longing for, one can see that many of the e-arrows that are available in the manufacturers' quivers are also SUVs. As long as the sales figures promise full profits, little will change in this direction. And who knows? Maybe the discussion about the number one object of hatred isn't so much about the SUV itself. Rather, it is about the SUV as a symbol of a fading episode in automotive history.