SMMT News UK Manufacturing

When is a truck not a truck? When it”s a European SUV

07 October 2005 #SMMT News #UK Manufacturing

SMMT has reacted with concern over a report in the British Medical Journal calling for health warnings on SUVs. The article has collated casualty statistics involving truck-derived vehicles in the United States, ignoring the fact that the vast majority of SUVs sold in the UK and across mainland Europe are smaller, car-derived models.


Researchers claim that an increase in European sales of 4x4s / SUVs poses a growing threat to pedestrians. Yet, according to latest DfT figures, pedestrian deaths in the UK fell from 1,038 in 1995 to 671 in the UK last year, a drop of 35 per cent. In the same period, sales of 4x4s / SUVs more than doubled from 80,427 to 179,439 units.


SMMT chief executive Christopher Macgowan commented, ‘We are surprised by this message. The researchers appear to have taken a well-trodden but misleading path, using American crash test data that is entirely irrelevant to the European market. The fact is that the vast majority of SUVs and 4x4s sold here are cars, not light trucks and their safety for occupants and pedestrians is improving all the time.’


In calling for independent crash tests, researchers have overlooked tests by the independent safety body EuroNCAP. Pedestrian protection measures are part of their robust test procedure for new cars. Scores vary from model to model. However the British-built Honda CR-V – Britain’s second best-selling SUV – is one of few to have scored three stars, a far better result than achieved by many smaller models.


The report also ignores investment made by car makers in active safety systems. These are designed to prevent accidents happening, rather than mitigating the effect of a crash. For example, in a voluntary move, manufacturers now fit ABS (anti-lock) brakes to all new volume production cars. Electronic stability and traction control systems are also helping more drivers of SUVs and other vehicles to avoid loss of control, keeping cars and pedestrians where they belong – apart.

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