Sunday Independent. The South African government may consider imposing penalties to slow the rapid growth in sales of SUVs and off-road vehicles, which have continued to rise despite soaring fuel prices, according to Nhlanhla Gumede, the chief director of hydrocarbons in the department of minerals and energy.
The government had considered instituted a combined program of surcharges on fuel guzzlers and rebates for fuel-efficient cars two years ago, but opted not to intervene in the market, according to Gumede.
“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 [39 mpg US], but many opt for vehicles that use 22 litres per 100 kilometres [11 mpg US],” he said.
Unleaded gasoline in South Africa ranges from R7.04 to R6.80 per liter (US$3.87 to US$3.74 per gallon US).
Annual sales of small SUVs in South Africa have more than tripled from 4,192 in 2001 to 12,835 in 2005. An estimated 500,000 drivers now own 4x4s and SUVs in South Africa.
John Salters, the managing director of the market research firm Synovate, said that despite the petrol price increases, awareness and adoption of alternative fuel engine technologies remained low.
Synovate surveyed 4,568 respondents in nine countries, including South Africa, assessing their familiarity with hybrid electric vehicles, direct-injection diesel and alternative fuel source vehicles. [Earlier post.]
“Globally, hybrid electric vehicles are the least familiar to consumers, with only 1 percent of those surveyed currently or previously owning such a vehicle,” he said.