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Volvo's upcoming EX30: the compact counter to the SUV surge

Over the past decades, SUVs and trucks grabbed serious market share from smaller cars. Despite inflation and supply chain issues, SUV sales worldwide increased by around 3% between 2021 and 2022, accounting for 46% of global car sales. Carbon dioxide emissions from SUVs reached almost one billion metric tons in 2022 — more than emitted by Brazil, Germany, South Korea and most other countries.

Countering that trend towards ever-larger could be Volvo, which just released teasers of its new electric SUV, the EX30. Full announcements will follow on 7 June 2023, and the initial image doesn't reveal much at all — the vehicle is shown in a dusky desert landscape, dwarfed by surrounding hills. An accompanying video sees a giant hand reaching down from the sky to grab the EX30 like a toy. 

That's precisely the point made by the Swedish car maker in the limited information it shared: "We have big news: something small is coming." A sign of a forthcoming shift away from oversized?

 

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Whether electric or gas-powered, larger vehicles require more energy to manufacture and move around. Their size and weight also make them more dangerous for other road users and (literally) take a heavier toll on streets and highways. So it's no wonder concerns are growing. 

In Montreal, the borough of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie just updated pricing for parking permits: the heavier a vehicle, the more its owner will pay. Why? In the last 20 years, between 4,000 and 10,000 parking spaces disappeared due to increased vehicle size. The borough aims to discourage that trend. Electric vehicles get a discount thanks to their lower emissions, but the issue at hand — for infrastructure, safety and the environment — is size.

As Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie's mayor declared: "With the auto industry demonstrating no ability to self-regulate and reduce vehicle growth, it's time for governments to do so." Volvo, with its announcement that "Thinking small is one of our biggest ideas," could be getting ahead of other regulators eager to take action. And switching to a more sustainable lane.