SUV sales soar across Austria

Environmentalists’ concerns are rising as traffic researchers report a boom in sales of sport utility vehicles (SUVs).Traffic Club Austria (VCÖ) official Christian Gratzer said today (Thurs) there has been a 25 per cent year on year rise in sale figures of the gas-guzzling cars in Austria in the first five months of 2010.Gratzer said most SUVs were sold in Vienna, while the strongest increase was registered in the province of Vorarlberg where 41 per cent more SUVs were purchased between January and May 2010 compared to the same time span last year.The VCÖ official said an overall 16,217 of the powerful vehicles were sold by car dealers across Austria during the first five months of this year, stressing that sale figures jumped in all nine provinces.”These figures show a rather worrying development,” Gratzer warned.The VCÖ expert explained diesel fuel SUVs release more nitric dioxides than 40-tonne lorries.He said: “These emissions increase the risk of respiratory diseases like bronchitis and asthma, especially for young children.”Gratzer said rising SUV sale figures between January and May 2010 follow a 22.5 per cent year on year increase in 2009.VC֒s announcements come just one day after it emerged that soaring car petrol prices were the main factor for a 1.9 per cent year on year rise in the rate of inflation last month.Figures presented yesterday (Weds) showed that there would have been just a one per cent rise had there not been a 21 per cent increase in prices for mineral oil products and a 19 per cent price hike for car fuel.Experts however do not expect many Austrians ditching their cars for public transport or bicycles. A poll by insurance firm Generali revealed earlier this year that just 10 per cent of Austrian motorists imagine life without a car.Anger among people over soaring car petrol prices is meanwhile on the rise. Public opinion agency OGM found that nine in ten Austrians were convinced that firms operating in the industry were engaged in price fixing.