Millennials Are Fooled into Thinking SUVs Are Actually Eco-Friendly

And Ford is happy to spin the fake story

We journalists often skip press releases that try to push a product through cherry-picked statistics, but I couldn't let this gem pass.

Ford is currently at the forefront of a fight to "adapt" emissions regulations to "market reality". Nothing new here, that's business as usual for big car companies, as they always try to push for favorable regulations. But the irony is Ford also tries to adapt market realities to science facts, and if these didn't match, it would just invent some. We're in the post-truth age, after all.

Here's what Ford's latest press release says:

Motivated by a strong social conscience and keen to rent, stream and share goods and services, the Millennial generation’s revolutionary approach to spending is changing how companies – including carmakers – do business. And their fresh thinking is influencing the cars they want to drive in ways you might not expect. More than 4 in 5 Millennials believe SUVs have become more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly during the last 5 years. Having shed their gas-guzzling reputation, SUVs are now on the shopping lists of 1 in 4 Millennials in the market for a new car.

The press release refers to Ford's launch of a new EV SUV with an estimated range of at least 300 miles by 2020 and some more hybrid cars, including a plug-in F-150. That's fine, as is the fact that Ford has some fuel-efficient engines like the new 120PS 1.5-litre TDCi on the new Kuga. But what's not fine is Ford using a Millennial belief to promote a falsehood.

Yes, Millennials do believe SUVs are not harming the environment as five years ago and guess what, that's right when taking into account individual cars (provided that emissions regulations like those Ford would like to "adapt" remain in place). Still, this doesn't make them "eco" when you compare them with smaller cars. When you take into account the current SUV and pick-up craze, you start to understand that there's nothing "eco" in the current market. Buying more SUVs brought fuel efficiency to a halt in the last three years, no matter what Millennials believe.

Here's another quote for you:

Sales of Ford’s SUV models in the UK – the compact EcoSport, medium-size Kuga and full-size Edge – are up 320 per cent in three years and grew 31 per cent in 2016 compared to 2015 in Europe. Industry SUV registrations were up 21 per cent across Europe in 2016, accounting for more than one quarter of all the new vehicles registered.

Of course, what Ford forgets to tell Millennials is that SUVs will never match the fuel efficiency of sedans or hatchbacks with similar engines, because they simply can't. Why? Well, perhaps because they're aerodynamic as a brick and at least 20 percent heavier. If a Millennial is concerned about the environment, buying an electric SUV just doesn't cut it.

Of course, there are worse things to do than buying a Ford Raptor and driving it over a Fiat 500. For example, buying and using a leaf blower. No, seriously (just read the link). A small car could still pollute more than a big pickup truck if its air cleaning systems are older and less efficient (Dieselgate, anyone?). But when it comes to actual fuel efficiency, trying to convince the world that you'd be OK with an SUV is just not right.

So, there's that. If you really want to be green, walk, use a bike or public transport. If you still want to drive a car, you'd be better off with a 310 hp, 2.3 Ecoboost Mustang than with a 245 hp, 2.0 Ecoboost Edge, and this applies to almost every comparison between a sporty and aerodynamic car and a similarly-engined (and more profitable for the carmaker) SUV.

Cut the crap, Ford.