Tuesday, October 04, 2005

SUV sales down by a lot.

In the past, people who pushed for conservation of fuel were derided by conservatives as 'latte liberals,' or some such tripe.

Of course, now, faced with the reality of fuel shortages and gas settling in at either just below or just above $3.00 a gallon, depending on where you live, we see the President finally, IN THE FIFTH YEAR OF HIS ADMINISTRATION, and two so far unsuccessful energy bills later, utter the word, 'conservation.' Well, better late than never. And considering how hard it is for this President to ever change course on anything, it is a red letter day.

Far more interesting though, is another change that is happening with only the 'free market' to propel it. Several years ago, John Kerry and John McCain cosponsored a bill to require Detroit to raise fuel efficiency standards by 2 mpg for each new vehicle. It was opposed by the oil companies and the automakers, who claimed that it was an 'infringement on consumer choice' (I have YET to meet anyone who refused to buy a car because it got too many miles to the gallon, but I digress.) And I will limit my discussion of Kerry-McCain to saying that if it had passed back then, we would be in a much better position today.

That said, we are not. But we find that result happening anyway. People are avoiding large SUV's and other vehicles that get poor gas mileage.

Here in rural Arizona where people drive a lot, I have seen more SUV's and fullsize pickups with 'for sale' signs on them than I have in a long time.

But what is really amazing is referenced in the article I just linked to.

Sales of the perennial best-selling SUV, the Ford Explorer, dropped by 58% compared with September 2004. Its larger kin, the Ford Expedition, which gets 14 mpg in city driving, saw sales drop 61%. Ford stopped producing its even larger SUV, the Excursion, last month.

GM’s full-size SUVs, due to be replaced with more fuel-efficient models next year, fell 56%. Sales of its Hummer H2 – so heavy it doesn’t fall under the EPA’s fuel-mileage ratings system -- were off by 31%, but the brand’s smaller new SUV, the H3, is off to a brisk start. It’s rated at 16 mpg in city driving.

Toyota moved 46% fewer of its immense Sequoia sport-utilities, rated at 15 mpg city, and sales of its smaller SUVs were off sharply as well. Sales of Honda’s largest SUV, the Pilot, fell 26%. Nissan sold 20% fewer of its 13-mpg Armadas

ALL of the major auto manufacturers are just having trouble selling large SUVs. And it is clear why:

"People see $100 fill-ups and wonder what the hell they are doing," (auto analyst David Healy of Burnham Securities Inc.) said. "Even the rich who can afford it realize that maybe these vehicles don't do much more than a sensible vehicle could."

And we could have gotten here just so much less painfully if we had paid attention to sensible conservation measures just a few short years ago.


Barbi said...

Ahoy, Eli! Good articles!

It's politics and profits over common sense and practicality...and all on the backs of the "average" citizens.

I'm ashamed of what is happpening to our planet, and the legacy we give to
future generations.

-Moody Blue

dorsano said...

If oil consumption continues to grow at its present rate, we'll run out of "affordable" oil before social security starts paying out at 70% of its promised benefit around 2040.

We need an energy policy with both a robust supply side and a robust demand side component.

We need to invest in ways to slow the increase in demand whether it's through conservation or investments in commuter mass transit or both.

And we need to open up new supplies across the entire spectrum of energy sources from nuclear to bio to solar.

We also need a more agressive R&D effort for strategic technologies such as fusion.

And all components of the plan should have objective goals with some means of accountability.

Or, I suppose we could delegate the responsibilities of government to the free market while the rest of world gains the competitive advantages of lower energy costs.

Hey - at least we wouldn't be socialists.