More and more vehicles and more and more heavy, an SUV fever that does not go away … the diagnosis is clear: Quebec suffers from road obesity.
In nearly twenty years, the average mass of a passenger vehicle (automobile and light truck) has increased by 18%, according to a calculation by our Bureau of Inquiry made from new data from the Société de l’assurance automobile. of Quebec (SAAQ).
Each vehicle on our roads therefore weighs on average 238 kilos (524 pounds) more than in 2001, or the equivalent of two refrigerators.
It is as if each car or light truck has gained almost 13 kilograms (28 pounds) per year.
As an example, the Toyota Corolla weighs 99 pounds more than 10 years ago and 418 pounds more than 20 years ago.
“There are safety considerations (airbags), but also comfort, equipment and functionality that make cars heavier and heavier,” explains automotive columnist Gabriel Gélinas.
Air conditioning, power windows and ABS braking system also add pounds, he continues.
- Annabelle Blais was on Pierre Nantel’s show on QUB radio:
And all that weight has an influence on gas mileage. The manual Toyota Corolla of 20 years ago was consuming 6.8 L / 100 km (city and highway combined). For the 2019 model, it’s 7.6 L / 100 km.
“We therefore have the same car which is less economical 20 years later,” explains Martin Trépanier, professor in the mathematics and industrial engineering department at Polytechnique Montreal.
“Improving fuel efficiency has not saved us gasoline, it has allowed us to have bigger tanks. It’s a bit absurd, ”adds Catherine Morency, professor specializing in transport engineering at Polytechnique Montréal and holder of two research chairs in mobility.
Not every car has necessarily gained weight. The Ford F150 or the Honda CRV are lighter than 20 years ago. But these trucks, heavier than a sedan, are present in greater numbers on our roads.
The F150 is now the best-selling vehicle in Quebec and is the 5th most registered (see tables).
“There has really been a transformation of the fleet,” says Ms. Morency, who is working with Équiterre on a research project to understand why SUVs and pickup trucks are so popular and how that contributes to traffic congestion.
One of the avenues studied by Ms. Morency is that the larger the vehicles, the more travel times and road congestion increase.
Its mathematical models show that 3,500 vehicles will need 3.7 minutes to travel a 5 km stretch if all drivers are driving Smart. However, this time increases to 8.3 minutes if everyone is driving a Honda Accord, and to 12.7 minutes in a Ford Expedition SUV.
“If I take up more space because my car is longer, the braking distance is longer and there will be vehicle spacing,” she illustrates.
“The vehicle is getting bigger, but the occupancy rate of the road is decreasing, that’s why we talk about road obesity,” says Ms. Morency.
This is an important line of thought, she says.
“Currently, we don’t give a damn about the concept of vehicle size and the impact that this can have on the capacity of our infrastructure. “
– With Philippe Langlois
Evolution of the weight of the 5 most popular cars in Quebec
► Ford F150
- + 31.52%
- – 279 KG or 615 LB
► Honda civic
- + 0.14%
- + 52 KG or 114 LB
► Toyota corolla
- + 9.03%
- + 45 KG or 99 LB
► Hyundai Elantra
- + 76.62%
- – 104 KG or 229 LB
► Mazda 3
- + 6.13%
- + 26 KG or 57 LB
Sources: SAAQ, Guide d’auto, Auto123
More numerous … and heavier
◆ We counted 6,697,819 vehicles registered in Quebec in 2019. The increase in the vehicle fleet is slowing down. Between 2000 and 2009, the number of vehicles increased by 24% (an average of 2.5% per year). And between 2010 and 2019, the increase is 13% (1.4% per year). The fact remains that between 2000 and 2019, the park grew by 43%.
◆ Average mass of a passenger vehicle (automobile and light truck):
2001: 1300 KG (2866 lbs)
2019: 1538 KG (3390 lbs)
► + 18%
Crazy about SUVs
Among the vehicles that have experienced a significant jump in their presence on our roads between 2011 and 2019, note the Toyota RAV4 (+202.73%), the Hyundai Tucson (+ 146.95%), the Nissan Rogue (+ 386 , 67%) or the Kia Sorento (+ 206.4%). These are SUVs for all of these vehicles.
Among the vehicles in circulation that are among the 50 most popular models:
- 26.4% are SUVs, up from 24% last year and 7% in 2011.
- 55% are cars, compared to 70% in 2011.
The Ford 150 is the most registered vehicle in four regions, namely Nord-du-Québec, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Saguenay Lac-Saint-Jean and Côte-Nord. In all other regions, the Honda Civic dominates.
In vehicles registered in Quebec, 46% are owned by men and 30% by women. Less than 10% of registered Ford F150s are owned by women.
Always more GHGs
The overweight of our vehicles contributes greatly to increasing our greenhouse gases (GHGs), experts agree.
One third of all of the province’s GHG emissions come from road transport. And while all other transport sectors (maritime, rail, air) have reduced or very little increased their emissions, road transport emits 50% more GHGs than in 1990.
“It is really the growth in the use of light and heavy trucks that explains the significant increase in transport emissions”, explains Pierre-Olivier Pineau, holder of the Chair in Energy Sector Management at the École des Hautes Etudes. (HEC) of Montreal.
Since 1990, GHG emissions from SUVs have increased by 127%.
GHGs attributable to heavy trucks (buses, trucks, road tractors) swelled by 170%.
“For heavy trucks, it is not only the number of trucks, but also the intensity of use (the number of km traveled in one year) which increased by + 59% between 1990 and 2017 for each truck”, explains Mr. Pineau.
Sales of gasoline for transportation are also up 6% for the period from 2010 to 2018. Half of gasoline sales in 2018 were related to light trucks, the category of SUVs, pickup trucks and vans.
“There hasn’t really been a reaction from the government to control the fleet,” says Professor Catherine Morency. We missed a great opportunity to reduce our greenhouse gases by controlling it. “
– With Philippe Langlois
Electric: slowly to but surely
As of June 30, 2020, there were 76,357 electric vehicles (fully electric or plug-in hybrids) on our roads, according to the Quebec Electric Car Association. At the same date last year, there were 52,556. This is an increase of 45%. Despite this increase, the number of electric cars only represents 1.14% of the vehicle fleet.
The three most popular models are the Chevrolet Volt, which has a 17% market share, the Nissan Leaf with 13% and the Tesla Model 3 with 12%.
The typical driver is a male between 46 and 55 years old with a salary of $ 70,000 to $ 80,000.