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Climate groups call for SUVs to be banned

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By Reuters
Climate groups call for SUVs to be banned
FILE PHOTO: Opel presents their new Crossland X SUV in Frankfurt, Germany February 20, 2017. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski   -   Copyright  Ralph Orlowski(Reuters)

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Climate groups including Greenpeace and Deutsche Umwelthilfe called on Monday for sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) to be banned as part of a wider campaign to curb pollution by the auto industry.

Carmakers should stop developing large, heavy cars and vehicles with combustion engines, the “Exit” consortium said at a press conference on the eve of the Frankfurt auto show.

“As long as SUVs rather than small electric vehicles dominate automotive transport, cars will remain the problem child for us climate activists,” the consortium said.

Volkswagen’s <VOWG_p.DE> chief executive Herbert Diess has agreed to meet activists from “Sand in the Gearbox” for a debate about the auto industry on Monday night.

The German automaker is preparing to launch a raft of hybrid and electric vehicles to try to banish a diesel emissions cheating scandal which has cost the company more than 30 billion euros (26.8 billion pounds) in refit costs and fines.

Hybrid vehicles can help cut carbon dioxide pollution, carmakers say.

“These fake arguments brought forward by the industry are exactly the reason why we are taking to the streets,” said a spokeswoman for Sand in the Gearbox, which has called for a blockade of the Frankfurt show and increased use of bicycles.

Activists say job losses among the auto industry’s 800,000 workers in Germany could be recouped via extra investments in public transport and railways.

(Reporting by Ilona Wissenbach and Edward Taylor; Editing by Mark Potter)