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Fuel Prices Be Damned, Large SUV Sales Up 20% In 2010

Posted in auto industry, Car Buying, Gas Guzzlers, Gas Prices, Newsworthy, SUV, Trucks by Kurt Ernst | November 1st, 2010 | 6 Responses |

Remember a few years back, when fuel prices closed in on the $4.00 per gallon mark, and naysayers told us it was the beginning of the end? We were either at or approaching peak oil, and gas prices were sure to continue their upward trend. Suddenly, buying a Smart franchise seemed like a sensible thing to do, but by the end of summer 2008, the madness had passed. Gas prices returned to normal levels, below $3.00 per gallon, and U.S. consumers (those who were still employed, at least) went about business as usual.

Americans either aren’t learning from the lessons of the past, or we aren’t too concerned about them: Left Lane News tells us that large SUV sales are up by 11% at GM and 28% at Ford year to date. Overall, the industry is reporting growth of 20% in the segment, surprising all but the product specialists behind the big SUVs. Mark Clawson, Chevrolet’s marketing manager, was quoted as saying, “Unless the country decides to limit people to only having two kids, only having one activity and not having things like snowmobiles, jet skis and boats, then there will be some people who will still want these vehicles.” In other words, large SUVs are just like potato chips: crunch all you want, and they’ll make more.

Expect manufacturers to focus on improving fuel economy in large SUVs over the next few years, via a mixture of smaller displacement turbocharged motors and expanded hybrid drivetrain offerings. I’d love to see turbodiesel motors worked into the product mix, but don’t expect that to happen any time soon. U.S. automakers are still convinced that Americans don’t want diesel motors, largely due to diesel fuel’s high cost on these shores.

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6 Responses

  1. Taylor says:

    “Americans either aren’t learning from the lessons of the past”

    The lesson was not allowed to be learned in the past because good old Uncle Sam, with his deep pockets of free money, stepped in and covered everybody’s bills for them. If things were truly allowed to go in the shitter, then people would have learned a lesson.

    As it stands, we are still coming in on a depression (yes I did say depression and not recession: gasp and angrily wave your fingers all you want) and yet people are blisfully going about life like they have the Midas touch.

    Let the economy fail, go into full on financial depression and then people will learn a lesson.

    Here endeth the lesson.

  2. Kurt says:

    Taylor, I hear you buddy. I’ve been saying the same thing for about a year and a half now. Sadly, Uncle Sam didn’t step in to pay my bills. You know all that feel-good crap about loan modifications and mortgage companies helping borrowers? It’s total bullshit, and if people really understood how fuxored we are, they’d be storming banks with pitchforks and torches.

    My wife and I were both unemployed in 2009, and you know what the mortgage company told us? “Go screw, until you burn through all your savings, then come talk to us.” In other words, financially conservative people get screwed, while those who live beyond their means get rewarded.

    OK, I’ll step off my soapbox now…

  3. jack davidsion says:

    Get this right, motors are electromagnetic
    engines are chemical-mechanical

    Yes I’m an engineer

  4. Set says:

    Jack, I tell people that all the time, they never listen. Haha.

    Since when has diesel been more expensive? It’s always been at or around $3.00 here in California, all the while gas will change from $2.97 to $3.50 back down to $2.80 in the same day…

  5. Kurt says:

    Set, I should have been a bit clearer with my statement: In Europe, diesel is cheaper than gasoline, since it carries lower taxes. Automakers see this as one of the main reasons behind diesel’s popularity in the EU. Their concern with the U.S. market is that diesel is typically priced comparably to premium gasoline. Even though diesels get better fuel economy, the automakers feel that high diesel fuel prices in the U.S. would have a negative impact on diesel car sales.

    Funny, but VW seems to sell every single TDI they import…

  6. Kurt says:

    Jack, you’re kidding me, right? “Motor” has been used as slang for an engine since long before I started writing. It will continue to be used long after I’m dead, and I’ll continue to use the terms interchangeably as I see fit. I may occasionally use the term “mill” in regards to an engine as well, even though that refers to a place where grains are ground into flour.

    I’ll promise you this: if I’m writing about a hybrid, I’ll distinguish between “motor” and “engine”. If I’m writing about an EV, I promise to never use the term “engine”.