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Thread: Gas prices don't scare buyers of big SUVs

  1. #1
    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default Gas prices don't scare buyers of big SUVs

    Gas prices don't scare buyers of big SUVs / After 2-year slump, demand rebounds

    In these days of nearly $4-a-gallon gasoline, a three-ton SUV that practically requires a bank loan to fill 'er up would seem to be a tough sell.
    Americans, however, are not shunning these beasts. Far from it. Auto industry figures show that after a two-year slump, sales of the gas guzzlers are up over 2006 -- in some cases, way up.
    The numbers for large SUVs rose nearly 6 percent in the first quarter of 2007, and the April figures were up 25 percent from April 2006, according to automakers' statistics provided by, an automotive research Web site.
    The bigger the guzzler, the better the numbers. Sales of GMC's Yukon XL were up a whopping 72 percent last month, and the totals for its Chevrolet sister, the Suburban, rose 38 percent. Topping off the tank on either one can cost as much as $120.
    The turnaround comes after a 24 percent drop in SUV sales from the first quarter of 2004 to the same period of 2006. One explanation for the renewed interest is that U.S. automakers are selling a more modern fleet of SUVs, some of which consume moderately less gas than their predecessors.
    But no one will confuse them with a Prius. The fact is that no matter how bad their mileage, SUVs have become deeply embedded in many Americans' lifestyle.
    "We've always said that large SUVs are never going the way of the dodo," said Alex Rosten, an analyst at "There will always be a demand for them. No other vehicle provides such capabilities -- the sheer cargo and passenger space, and the towing capacity."
    The adaptations that U.S. automakers made for the 2007 model year included three large "crossover" vehicles introduced by General Motors -- the GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and Buick Enclave -- that are included in large SUV sales numbers. Crossover utility vehicles are similar to SUVs but, because their design is based on a car rather than a truck, they ride more smoothly and, in general, they have better fuel economy.
    Another reason people are turning to large SUVs is that General Motors has "abandoned the minivan," Rosten said.
    GM spokesman Jeff Holland confirmed that the company has stopped production on all of its minivans except the Chevrolet Uplander and it, too, will end its run with the 2007 model year. The vans, Holland said, are being replaced with the three crossover vehicles because they hold just as many people and get better gas mileage.
    A typical SUV buyer is Dr. Reginald Fulford, an El Cerrito orthodontist who recently bought an old-fashioned Ford Expedition. It weighs a bit more than 6,200 pounds, is nearly 3 feet longer than a sedan and, on a good day, gets about 14 miles per gallon.
    He knows that to some people, especially in the greener-than-thou Bay Area, he's something of a pariah. Occasionally he finds that someone has left a slip of paper under his wiper blade, asking him to buy a smaller car.
    Actually, he has a smaller car, a 1997 Nissan Maxima, that he uses for some local runs because he knows the Expedition is a big, gas-guzzling vehicle.
    Nonetheless, Fulford says there are many reasons why he bought the Expedition.
    "I'm 6 feet 4 inches and I weigh 250 pounds, so for me, it's a comfort thing," he said. "It's a comfortable and convenient vehicle. I have a son who is 4 and a daughter who is 16, and we use the SUV to haul kids around, take them to parties. We use it to go to the mountains and we pull a water-skiing boat behind it."
    Fulford says he loves the car because of "all the functional aspects" of it, and his wife loves it "because of all the nice amenities," such as heated leather seats.
    "It would be nice if they could get this fuel thing together," Fulford said of the Expedition's comparatively miserable gas mileage. "And as a citizen of the United States, I'm concerned about global warming. It's not that I don't consider those things. We try to do as much as we can. We try not to drive that far."
    At the Union of Concerned Scientists, where global warming and fuel economy are on everyone's minds, vehicles engineer and consultant Dan MacKenzie said, "The larger point of all this is the need to raise fuel economy standards in this country. The automakers are not selling vehicles that take full advantage of the technology available today."
    MacKenzie said recent innovations such as "cylinder deactivation" -- the process by which some engine pistons don't work when they're not needed -- have been helpful. But then, he said, manufacturers "came up with more powerful engines, which canceled out the improvement."
    "We know the technology is out there to increase fuel economy about 60 percent without compromising size (of the vehicle)," MacKenzie said. "It could go from just under 25 miles per gallon -- the government's average of all cars and trucks -- to about 40 miles per gallon.
    "Here's what I would say to a family that is in the market for a vehicle like this," MacKenzie said. "If you care about the environment, shop around. Think about what you need and choose the cleanest and most fuel-efficient vehicle you need. And write to your lawmakers and say we need higher fuel economy standards."
    Until those standards improve, however, it's the "big heavies," as they're sometimes called, that are out there for sale and the automakers are making deals whenever they can. Fulford said the price of his fully loaded SUV, hovering near $50,000, dropped to around $40,000 when it came time to make the deal.
    And dealers are not out of the woods yet when it comes to selling SUVs -- at least, not in the Bay Area. In visits to several dealers in the East Bay, The Chronicle found the mood in dealer showrooms was not ecstatic when the discussion turned to SUVs.
    "No one's buying them," said one sales manager, who declined to be identified publicly. At another dealership, a sales manager, when told why the reporter was there, said, "That's never been a good subject. It always comes off in the papers as negative."
    At Putnam Buick/GMC in Burlingame, however, co-owner Rick Corso was happy to talk about SUV sales. "If you have a large family, a small car won't get the job done," Corso said. "As long as we have some rather large families, what are the alternatives?"

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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    Elite Member sputnik's Avatar
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    that's because gas is not expensive enough in the US. it should go up even more and cost what it does in europe.
    I'm open to everything. When you start to criticise the times you live in, your time is over. - Karl Lagerfeld

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    ^^^ That's partially the reason. The other reason is if people have the $40,000 to buy some of these SUV's. They usually can afford whatever gas costs. It depends on where you live. I live in a rather rich suburb and all I see are fully loaded Hummers, SUV's, and Sports Cars. These people don't care if gas costs $10 a gallon. They can afford it.

  5. #5
    Hit By Ban Bus!
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    Actually, gas price affects everything. Even the parts of cars are getting higher these days. I purchased a Saturn wiper blade last week and I couldnít believe that there are some who offer them a lot higher than before. Groceries and other personal needs go in hike as well. But, the hike doesnít actually affect those who are in the higher class, those who doesnít think of where to get money because they have the abundance. They can have whatever they want. They can buy SUVís as they please. It just proves that money really matters, a lot.

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    Elite Member Just Kill Me's Avatar
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    Why would they?

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    they use credit cards to pay for gas

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    Friend of Gossip Rocks! buttmunch's Avatar
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    SUV's should be banned. Not only do the majority guzzle gas, they usually ugly as shit and give the driver a sense of invincibility, leading to horrendous driving.
    'Those who sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither.' Ben Franklin

    "When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross."
    --Sinclair Lewis

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    Elite Member twitchy's Avatar
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    Dancing on your grave!!!!


    Quote Originally Posted by Jackie View Post
    Actually, gas price affects everything. Even the parts of cars are getting higher these days. I purchased a Saturn wiper blade last week and I couldnít believe that there are some who offer them a lot higher than before. Groceries and other personal needs go in hike as well. But, the hike doesnít actually affect those who are in the higher class, those who doesnít think of where to get money because they have the abundance. They can have whatever they want. They can buy SUVís as they please. It just proves that money really matters, a lot. SUCKS "Jackie" and so do you.

    you revolting moron.

    Spammer shite.

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  10. #10
    Elite Member nwgirl's Avatar
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    It doesn't bother me one way or another. The vast majority of people I know guzzle gas any way you look at it. I don't know one person that has a hybrid car or who walks or rides their bike or takes public transportation. So to me, I'm just as guilty as the next person. Maybe not to the same degree, but guilty nonetheless.

    The thing that bugs me about the SUV's though is that I can't see past them in a parking spot or on the road. It makes me want to get one just because I feel at such a disadvantage in those two areas.
    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits."

  11. #11
    Gold Member glamazon's Avatar
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    Oct 2005


    ^^ I live in NYC. I don't know how to drive. I HAVE to walk or take the bus/train.

    Late at night, I take cabs. But SUVs are all in the city as well, and I can't stand it! There's no reason to drive your SUV into a packed city, none of the cabbie can see past you, and your sense of invicibility is larger and you drive worse.

    So NWgirl, just by not having an SUV, you're part of the solution. Go You!
    Talent Works, Genius Creates

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