posted on Jul, 4 2005 @ 01:27 PM
To say that US sales of SUVs haven't been affected by high fuel prices simply is not true. GM basically has had to resort to giving away their
vehicles by offering employee discounts to everyone and the company is already on the verge of bankruptcy. Ford's Expedition and Explorer SUVs
haven't been selling well at all, either, with sales of both down over 20% this year.
It won't drop much further, however, and the reason is that there are no truly viable alternatives. The econo-box has only one advantage over a
typical SUVs, that being fuel economy. For many, the loss of passenger room, cargo capacity, resale value and overall utility mean that a small
vehicle just isn't an option.
A few months ago, I was in the market for a new vehicle. Cars? I live on a gravel road. Its not too bad 8 months out of the year, but I've
seen what the other 4 do to an average car. Aside from that, I'll probably be starting a family in a few years and want something that is both
safe, has passenger room and also has some cargo carrying and hauling capacity. And given that an average car isn't worth anything in 5 years in
this area (where an SUV or light truck may be worth $10-15 thousand), it was no contest. I went with a truck. I bought a fully loaded 2004 4wd
crew cab F-150 with only 4,000 miles on it for basically the same price of a brand new fully loaded mid size passenger car. In some ways I would
have rather purchased a mid-size truck, but again, it would have cost the same amount of money, so why bother?
So I ask, where is the incentive for me to buy the car at the same price? My truck has more room, its safer, and I can actually carry something
larger than a golf bag in it. I get about 21 mpg on the highway, about 12 in the city. With 80% of my driving on the highway, is that extra
6-8MPG from a car worth it? Considering that I'll quite likely get $10,000 more out of it than the car 5 years down the road, its not much of
The point I'm trying to make here is that attacking SUVs and light trucks isn't the proper course of action. The only way to solve this particular
problem is to offer the SUV/light truck buyer a realistic alternative, which they don't have right now. For many, it makes no sense whatsoever to
buy a small car. Many consumers won't buy them because they're useless to them. Instead, we should be pressing for government and the auto
industry to *improve* SUVs and light trucks, particularly in terms of fuel mileage.