Statistically less safe than regular cars and with higher CO2 emissions, campaigners argue the heavily-marketed cars have no place in urban areas
“S UV insanity” shouted the front page of German business newspaper Handelsblatt earlier this month, showcasing a weekend special questioning the aggressive marketing by carmakers of highly profitable 4x4 vehicles.
That evening, at a busy Berlin intersection, the driver of a Porsche Macan SUV lost control of his vehicle and mounted the pavement, killing four people: a three-year-old boy and his 64-year-old grandmother, and two men in their 20s.
The city erupted. “It was no longer a theoretical danger; people were being killed,” says Benjamin Stephan, a transport and climate change campaigner at Greenpeace. “There was a public outcry. It didn’t come from nowhere, people are upset about these cars.”
The following day hundreds of Berliners gathered at a vigil for those killed, calling for a ban on SUVs. Stephan von Dassel, the district mayor of Berlin-Mitte, said “armour-like SUVs” don’t belong in cities. Oliver Krischer, a deputy leader of the Green party in the German parliament, called for size restrictions on 4x4s allowed into urban centres. “The best solution would be a nationwide rule that allowed local authorities to set size limits,” he told Der Tagesspiegel.