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Have U.S. Drivers Reached Filling Point of No Return?

As a percentage of total U.S. auto sales, sales of light trucks -- a category that includes SUVs -- peaked at 55% in 2005. Since then, more people have been shifting to smaller vehicles. So far this year, light trucks have accounted for 47% of auto sales.

A drop from 55% to 47% is hardly paradigm changing, yet. It means that (a small) half of new cars (admittedly a slightly declining number itself right now) are still light trucks.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 08:46:09 AM EST
Absolutely, that plunge has a long way to go.

What is the "legitimate" market space for large vehicles?  10% of what the market actually has been?

And, then, as well, one has to wonder whether there will be real gains in the fuel efficiency at the 'large' end.

For example, I have viewed the "minivan" as a space truly open for PHEV.  Why?  Relatively large vehicles, able to 'sacrifice' some space for early generation batteries/such.  In a market space which cares about gasoline prices &, to a certain extent, environmental image.  And, generally, sold to people with some legitimate claim for 'size'/seats. (The neighbors with five kids (included the adopted) & such ...)  Sigh ... the Chevy Volt is a two seater.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 08:55:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I had a friend in California who wanted to replace his old minivan but couldn't find a decent one at any dealers so he had to settle for a not-too-offensive SUV. This was in 2003-4.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 09:00:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Probably larger than that since it includes actual light trucks for folks who need to use them for work. SUV's, however, seem like they should be a tiny niche market. For moderately large families what's interesting is the decline of the station wagon. When I was a kid, most families with more than two kids had one of those. They don't get great mileage but it's better than an SUV. And families with kids need space, not power.
by MarekNYC on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 02:37:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The minivan replaced the station wagon starting in the mid 1980's.  The SUV's ascension was due to the poor image of the "family van" and the SUV was thus a cooler, higher-status vehicle for your kid to be picked up from school in.  Ultimately that status grew to include being a cooler vehicle to be seen stuck in traffic on the freeway in.

Americans are idiots.  

The vast majority of SUV's can be found in suburbs.  In the city you will find a higher percentage of German cars.

by paving on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 03:12:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Americans are idiots."

Yes, however, the SUV craze is not limited to the U.S.

by asdf on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 05:09:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, but I think it's fair to say that it's a much larger problem in America.

Personally, my attitude is, "Fuck'em.  I got a nice, small car with good mileage, while they got $50k penis enlargements.  Suck on it."

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 04:02:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but at least they have some feeble excuses, like large families. In China, with their one-child policy, they don't even have that.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 04:17:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that's not even a feeble excuse outside of Utah.  (I suppose you could talk about Catholics, too, but nobody listens to the Pope in America about that whole no-condomns thing.)  Almost every American family could do just fine in a Civic or a Corolla.  Certainly they don't need anything bigger than a Camry or an Accord.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 04:19:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i am an american, and i live in germany, and yes most americans are brain dead idiots. total morons. this energy crisis is going to be MUCH worse than in the 70s, because under reagan bush 1 and bush 2 people in america got really stupid. really really really stupid. most of the people under 40 are total idiots, clueless about the world, and the most selfcentered group of people i have EVER seen.
idiot isnt strong enough. how about morons...

Life is not a dress rehearsal
by johnfire (johnfire@christopherrehm.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 05:34:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Most people under 40?  The country began going to shit right around the time the God-damned Boomers became eligible to vote.  Those people would be well over 40, pal.  The people under 40 aren't the ones putting these motherfuckers in office, so where do you get that bullshit from?  The people under 40 aren't the God-damned idiots who believe tax cuts pay for themselves, or that global warming isn't real, or that drilling for oil in Florida is going to make us independent.

No, it's the old fucks who sold this country out to Reagan for a fucking tax cut to their bosses, who pissed away everything their parents built, and left those of us under 40 with the debt bomb.

But nice try.  Thanks for playin'.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 05:52:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ok you got a point.

but if those of us who know better dont treat each other better we are as bad as they are.

just a thought


Life is not a dress rehearsal

by johnfire (johnfire@christopherrehm.com) on Fri Jun 20th, 2008 at 02:58:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Treating each other better is fine, but my point was that you needed to get your generations straight when talking about America's official fuck-ups.  The data is pretty clear.

If people under 40 made the decisions, President Gore would be getting ready to hand off a nearly debt-free, and far more energy conscious, America to President Obama.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 11:01:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"President Gore would be getting ready to hand off a nearly debt-free, and far more energy conscious, America to President Obama."

to President Kucinich, you mean...  :-)

by asdf on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 01:04:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 01:14:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Paul Craig Roberts, the rise of the SUV was the result of state intervention:

http://www.counterpunch.org/roberts01302008.html


Or the fleet milage standards that regulation imposes on car makers. These regulations destroyed the family station wagon. Families needing carrying capacity turned to vans and to panel trucks. Car makers saw a new market and invented the SUV, which as a "light truck" was exempt from the fleet milage regulations. The effort to impose fuel economy resulted in cars being replaced by over weight fuel-guzzling SUVs.

:D

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Sat Jun 21st, 2008 at 07:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My estimate is trying to figure out how many people have actual work requirements for SUVs.  I am not talking about the realtor who throws three signs and five balloons in the back.  

I don't know nation-wide, but my impressionistic is that 10% is perhaps a generous number as to who actually requires that light-duty vehicle for work purposes.

Blogging regularly at Get Energy Smart. NOW!!!

by a siegel (siegeadATgmailIGNORETHISdotPLEASEcom) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 06:01:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SUV's sure, but pickup trucks seem to me to be very commonly used for work purposes.  What would also be useful would be more four wheel drive vehicles that aren't SUV's
by MarekNYC on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 06:21:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What is the point of 4WD in passenger cars? (Disclaimer: I used to drive a Subaru with AWD.) Snow tires are a much better solution to the "not getting stuck in snow" problem, and there is absolutely no need for 4WD/AWD in normal driving conditions. And the extra mechanical parts add weight and friction.

What did workers do before there were these huge pickup trucks, anyway? They used small vehicles, VW vans, Jeeps, station wagons... There is at best very limited need for a Ford F-350 Super Duty pickup truck. None, really, when you get down to it.

by asdf on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 06:57:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There have been big pickup trucks forever (dating back to before WWII). The difference is that they were very clearly intended for work - no back seat, no indoor features, just functionality.

 On 4wd I'm not a driver but I've spent a lot of time on snowy mountain roads as a passenger, and they're much easier to get out of a drift, and much less likely to skid. It might be true that snow tires are better than 4wd without them, but everybody in a snowy climate has winter tires regardless of what they're driving.  Chains are even better, but they're an absolute pain to be constantly putting on and taking off.

by MarekNYC on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 07:27:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The pickup trucks I'm familiar with back into the 1960s were not nearly as big as today's. And obviously in Europe it is possible for a carpenter to get to work without having a massive 4WD truck...
by asdf on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 10:31:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Japanese solution to the workman's problem . . . the K-Truck

Shop Here!

by Zwackus on Thu Jun 19th, 2008 at 05:42:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What got me thinking was the driver in the radio story was being forced into holding on to his guzzler because he couldn't afford to get something else. (One consideration, he has five kids.)

This is the same issue that comes up when we talk about insulating homes or replacing inefficient heating systems or the like. Bleeding money slowly is the only choice for people with no access to adequate capital.

People always say "where will we get the money?". Obama just put out some plan or other and he is going to get the revenue from tweaking some tax or other. What's never discussed is getting the money by not building more military hardware or not funding some ongoing aspect of the imperial empire like foreign bases.

I guess the choices in Europe and Japan are a bit harder since there is no comparable military elephant sitting there unexamined.

I mentioned $100 billion for fusion R&D yesterday = eight months in Iraq. It's all about priorities.

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 09:29:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rdf:
This is the same issue that comes up when we talk about insulating homes or replacing inefficient heating systems or the like. Bleeding money slowly is the only choice for people with no access to adequate capital.
And if people not getting access to adequate capital gets in the way of sociaty's goals (be it energy efficiency or full employment) an economic ideology that prevents the State from creating money to spend on necessary things (taxing away any resulting surplus purchasing power) is actively damaging to the public good.

When the capital development of a country becomes a by-product of the activities of a casino, the job is likely to be ill-done. — John M. Keynes
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 10:23:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
People are going to be learning once again about used cars.  A 2001 Nissan Altima, for example, would be suitable for 90% of SUV owners and can be picked up for 8k I'm sure.
by paving on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 03:13:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a 2002 Toyota for $9500...

http://cosprings.craigslist.org/car/724154348.html

However, you can get a REAL car for only $7000:

http://cosprings.craigslist.org/car/724149798.html

by asdf on Wed Jun 18th, 2008 at 05:15:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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