New car mean average kerb weight increased 400 kg over seven years; attributed to SUVs, electrification

The average weight of new cars has increased by almost 400 kg over the past seven years, according to Autocar.

This was observed from the British magazine’s own data from vehicle road tests, and figures from between 2016 and 2023, or approximately one model cycle, showed that the mean average kerb weight of new cars increased from 1,553 kg to 1,947 kg.

The increases in weight have been attributed, in part, to the growing popularity of SUVs, many of which are heavier than their sedan or hatchback equivalents. Of the vehicles tested by the publication in 2016, 16 models were SUVs or crossovers, which had a mean average kerb weight of 1,722 kg, which was 169 kg more than the figure for all models tested that year.

Examples cited include the Skoda Kodiaq which was recorded by the publication to weigh 1,751 kg, or 246 kg more than the Skoda Superb from the previous model year. Testing of another marque, Jaguar, yielded comparable results, with the F-Pace weighing 180 kg more than the XF with the same 2.0 litre turbodiesel engine, it wrote.

Coming forward to 2023, the magazine tested 24 crossovers, SUVs and pick-up trucks in total that year, with a mean average weight of 1,985 kg. This was only a 38 kg difference compared to the overall average weight for that year, or significantly less than the 169 kg difference recorded in 2016, it noted.

Autocar observed that while SUVs and crossovers averaged 1,906 kg, which was below the mean average for all models it tested last year, this suggested that while the increased proportion of SUVs on the market is partly responsible for the overall weight gain, it is not the sole cause, a finding which it says is backed up by the average SUV in 2023 being 183 kg heavier than it was in 2016.

Electrification also played a role in the upwards weight creep of new cars, as battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) tested by Autocar saw an average weight of 1,991 kg, compared to internal combustion-engined cars which averaged almost 100 kg less at 1,897 kg. If hybrids and PHEVs are excluded, the ICE average drops to 1,841 kg, or 150 kg less than the BEV average.

New car mean average kerb weight increased 400 kg over seven years; attributed to SUVs, electrification

The magazine says that the difference is reflected in the broader trend for cars it has tested since 2000, which reached the 1,700 kg average mark in 2018. This dipped to 1,675 kg in 2019 but has continued to increase since, reaching 1,879 kg in 2022 and 1,947 kg last year. The trend appears to only continue upwards, it says, as the average weight of cars tested in Q1 2024 was 2,087 kg, the heaviest vehicle being a Mercedes-Benz EQS SUV at 2,899 kg.

Overall weight gain among vehicles isn’t just to be blamed on SUVs and electrification, Autocar notes, as the shrinking of the small-car segment has also pushed average weights upwards with fewer models under 1,000 kg coming to market to offset the heavier models on sale.

Vehicles that tipped the weighing scale at less than 1,000 kg, as tested by the magazine, were six in total in 2003, wit another six weighing between 1,000 kg and 1,100 kg, it said. In 2023, just one car was tested to weigh under the tonne, a Citroën Ami, which is actually classified as a quadricycle. The lightest car tested in 2023 by the publication was the Alpine A110 R at 1,065 kg, followed by the petrol-powered Hyundai Kona at 1,532 kg.

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