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Last Updated: Wednesday, 6 December 2006, 12:02 GMT
Study shows sharp 4x4 sales fall
A 4x4 vehicle
There is a public backlash against 4x4 vehicles
Sales of 4x4 vehicles have fallen sharply across the UK, an industry-wide survey has revealed.

The study shows that sales of 4x4s fell 5.5% in the first 10 months of 2006, and by 15.2% in November alone.

Thirsty 4x4 vehicles have lost favour because of higher petrol prices and opposition from environmental groups.

Yet the study's authors, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders, said most of the fall was due to two best-selling 4x4 models being replaced.

The SMMT said UK 4x4 sales would recover when the replacement Land Rover Discovery and Honda CR-V models came on to the market.

'Chelsea tractors'

Declining sales of 4x4s have also come in the face of increased taxes.

In the last budget, Chancellor Gordon Brown introduced a new 215 top rate of vehicle excise duty for the most polluting cars, including such 4x4 vehicles as the Range Rover, BMW X5 and Toyota Land Cruiser.

The Chancellor is also expected to announce a rise in fuel duty in Wednesday's Pre-Budget Report, which will hit uneconomical cars the most.

Critics of 4x4s have given them the nickname "Chelsea tractors" to criticise people who use such vehicles primarily in an urban environment.

"This is not the big collapse in 4x4 sales that the environmental lobby would like to see. Rather there is a very simple explanation - two key models are in the process of being replaced," said the SMMT's head of communications, Nigel Wonnacott.

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