July 31, 2006

South Africa may crack down on SUVs

Cape Town, South Africa – The South African government may consider imposing penalties to slow the sale of SUVs and off-road vehicles, as reported by the Green Car Congress. The report cites Nhlanhla Gumede, chief director of hydrocarbons in the Department of Minerals and Energy.

Two years ago, the government had considered a combined program of rebates on fuel-efficient vehicles and surcharges on fuel-thirsty vehicles, but opted not to intervene in the marketplace. “One would have thought that rising fuel prices would see more people buying cheaper vehicles that would use up to six litres of petrol per 100 kilometres, but many opt for vehicles that use 22 litres per 100 kilometres,” Gumede says. Unleaded gasoline in South Africa ranges between R7.04 to R6.80 per litre, or about US$3.74 to US$3.87 per gallon.

Despite this, annual sales of small SUVs have more than tripled from 4,192 in 2001 to 12,835 in 2005, and an estimated 500,000 drivers now own 4x4s and SUVs.

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