By Javier Blas
As OPEC ministers gather in Vienna, they may notice more sport utility vehicles on the streets of the Austrian capital than on previous visits.
Last year, SUVs outsold any other type of passenger vehicle in Europe for the first time, according to auto industry consultants JATO Dynamics. The trend has continued in 2016, with demand for SUVs such as the Hyundai Tucson and the Renault Kadjar accounting for a quarter of sales in the biggest European countries.
Europe is a mirror of what’s happening across the world. From China to the U.S., drivers are buying bigger vehicles, while sales of fuel-efficient hybrids struggle…
…“Fuel-economy improvement is really flatlining,” said Sam Ori, executive director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago. “The gains completely stopped right at the same time that oil prices started to decline.”
Today in the U.S., light trucks, vans and SUVs account for 60 percent of total vehicle sales — a level only reached briefly in 2005, when Brent crude, the global oil benchmark, averaged $55 a barrel. It’s now around $50. The International Energy Agency said in May that less-efficient vehicles, including four-wheel drives, “remain very much in vogue, a consequence of persistently lower retail pump prices…”
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