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A strong link between advertising and large vehicle sales shown in a new study by Équiterre

Fact sheet

The impacts of SUVs

Impacts of SUVs on the environment

Quebec's GHG emissions keep rising when they should be decreasing to meet our government targets.

The reason is simple: the sale of SUVs is skyrocketing in the province, even though these vehicles consume on average 20% more gas than an equivalent car. More than half of the increase in GHGs comes from SUVs and light trucks.

Tackling vehicle size is therefore crucial to addressing climate change.

⚫️ Gaz guzzlers

In 2018, large vehicles emitted an average of 31% more GHGs per mile than standard cars, and it was the only sector whose emissions did not decline in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Like 195 other countries, Canada made a commitment at the Paris Agreement (2015) to reduce its GHG emissions to keep global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. However, the country's emissions are hardly decreasing. This is due to the negative impact of the transport industry, whose emissions are increasing year after year, mainly because of the proliferation of light-duty trucks.

The figures are indisputable: between 1990 and 2018, GHG emissions from light-duty trucks increased by 156% in Canada, contributing to the overall increase in national emissions (+21%). It is the only sector whose emissions did not decrease in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

These larger vehicles are not only more numerous on the roads but also much more polluting. According to Équiterre's study Understanding the Rise of Light Trucks in Canada, light-duty trucks, including SUVs, consume on average 20% more fuel than an equivalent car. Because of their size, they also consume more natural resources.

It is therefore urgent to reduce the size of our vehicles to address the climate crisis. As an individual, this means rethinking our needs to be more sober


Impacts of SUVs on safety

The larger and heavier the SUV is, the higher the frequency of collisions and the greater the risk of death.
In Quebec, SUVs are twice as likely to be involved in collisions with pedestrians than a car.

Did you know?

Collisions provoked by SUVs are 28% more fatal for other drivers.

The risk that these vehicles represent for road users makes them a public health issue.

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Studies show that the heavier the vehicle, the greater the risk of being involved in a collision. In fact, SUVs are involved in twice as many accidents involving pedestrians than cars. Also, accidents caused by SUVs are 28% more fatal for the other drivers involved.

More dangerous for pedestrians

Large vehicles also place pedestrians at greater risk. In Quebec, a greater proportion of pedestrians are seriously injured when an SUV is involved in a crash (10.6%) than when there are no light trucks involved (6.7%). Individuals struck by vans are twice as likely to succumb to collision-related injuries than those struck by other types of vehicles.

The severity of the injuries inflicted is due to the design of the vehicles and the height of certain components (such as headlights, grills and bumpers). In a collision, an SUV is more likely to project a pedestrian forward than a car, resulting in an increased risk of hip and leg injuries. The danger is even greater for children.

More dangerous also for the driver of the SUV

While they may appear to be better protected, drivers of light-duty trucks are not immune from injury: SUVs and vans are notorious for rolling over in the event of a collision or loss of control. The risk of ejection is also much greater, as is the fatality rate in rollover accidents.


Synthesis Report

LES CAMIONS LÉGERS Impacts de la transformation du parc de véhicules légers au Québec, Polytechnique Chair of Mobility, 2021 (part of the Équiterre research)

The impacts of SUVs on finances

The vehicle industry invests heavily in promoting SUVs as they cost on average $10,000 more to buy. They can also cost up to $4,000 more each year than a car.

By opting for an SUV, households run a greater risk of getting into debt.

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The cost of an SUV is not insignificant. On average, they cost $10,000 more than a standard car, with an added $4,000 per year for gas, maintenance and registration fees. According to the Équiterre study entitled The Rise of Light-Duty Trucks in Canada: Reversing the Trend, these additional costs are due to added features such as all-wheel drive, and the overall greater input of materials that is required. The profit margin associated with the "SUV" label is also a factor in the price.

Long-term car loans also encourage the public to buy light-duty trucks that are more expensive than their budget allows, leading to a higher risk of debt.

Gasoline costs

While SUVs have become more fuel-efficient, on average they still use more gasoline than a car. At a time when fuel prices are skyrocketing, this extra cost has a significant impact on personal finances, since SUVs consume an average of 20% more fuel.

Source: Protégez-vous

Higher registration costs

In Quebec, registering a larger, more gas-guzzling vehicle often costs more. There is an additional registration fee for "luxury" vehicles that applies to vehicles worth more than $40,000, and also a surcharge for gas-guzzling vehicles with engines of 4 litres or more.