Bad Eco Trend: Kiwis Back To Buying SUVs


Motorists are buying grunty cars and using them more

Al Gore won’t be pleased. The concern in NZ  about the environment seems to be going in the opposite direction to how he would like.

That includes giving less of a damn about whether the SUV you buy damages the environment.

Lower fuel prices in the last 12 months have helped lead more Kiwis to conclude that they don’t need to think about the environment when buying a car.

In fact, fewer New Zealanders have bought more fuel-efficient lower emissions vehicles in the past year, compared with 2008 when fuel prices spiked at more than $2 per litre for 91 octane petrol.

This according to the latest annual survey on environmental matters conducted by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development.

Those petrol prices have just started to rise again.

But in the last 12 months, when fuel prices were lower, the number of people buying more efficient vehicles for environmental reasons has slipped from 25% in 2007 and a peak of 27% in 2008 to 16% over the last year.

At least 17% of those questioned did choose to sell an older motor vehicle in the past year for environmental reasons.

And this comes only a week after a major ARC briefing document for the incoming super city, which talked of Auckland getting even more car crazy with 35 new vehicles on the road every day.

It warns that despite gains in public transport , the level of car ownership has increased across the Auckland region, with 17% of households now having three or more vehicles compared to 14 per cent just five years earlier.

In addition, vehicle engine sizes and fuel consumption are both trending upwards.

And Aucklanders are driving more in their vehicles. In 2007, the average Auckland resident drove an extra 275km a year compared to 2000.

And a few days ago, those Auckland trends,  more cars on the roads, higher horsepower and people using them to travel more distances – popped up again in a Greater Wellington Regional report. It said over the ten years from 2000 to 2009, the total number of cars registered in the Wellington region rose by 16%.

It said that over the past 20 years, the number of trips on New Zealand’s state highways has grown 66%. It concluded: The long term trend is for people to make more trips, more often, over longer distances.

Today’s release of the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development survey covers 1066 people between February 7 and March 9, 2010.

Results are weighted to provide a nationally representative population sample. The maximum margin of error is +/- 3% on the national sample.

The number who believe climate change is not a problem at all is 17% (up from 9% in 2008 and 8% in 2007).

Other trends:

  • belief that climate change is a problem to be dealt with now or urgently remains high at 65% but has fallen from 76% in 2008 (-11%)
  • people are continuing to take personal actions because of  environmental concerns in about the same numbers as last year
  • more people are going to meetings, signing petitions or donating money or time to organisations addressing environmental concerns
  • concern remains high, though it has fallen slightly, on major environmental issues, like the management and sources of energy, maintaining reliable water supplies, keeping rivers clean and waste

The Auckland ARC report warned that any improvements in air pollution that have resulted from better fuel, new vehicle technology and tighter emissions standards have now been offset by the growth in vehicle numbers, kilometres travelled and the ageing vehicle fleet.

But the survey out today shows enough people consider it a problem not for now but maybe sometime down the track.


NZ Business Council for Sustainable Development 2010 survey  results(PDF)


ARC to change public transport usage targets next month

Are Auckland’s transport pollutants killing us?

Major report: State of Auckland’s car crazed city

Wellington’s transport trends




  1. Jeremy Harris says:

    As gas prices head over $2 a litre I really don’t wanna hear any bitching and moaning about the price and asking the government removing GST on gas… It seems many people have made their bed and it will be time to lie in them…

  2. rtc says:

    @Jeremy agreed


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