Monday, 5 May 2008

High petrol prices see Americans ditch SUVs

America's love affair with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-up trucks is finally over.

The gas-guzzlers that ply the country's freeways and clog its city streets and parking lots are falling victim to ever-rising petrol prices, rather than concern about the country's oversized carbon footprint. The fall-off in sales is dramatic however.

Even offers like that from a Denver showroom of a year's free petrol with each new SUV isn't shifting the pick-ups and 4x4s quickly enough to stave off financial ruin for the country's car manufacturers.

With petrol now selling for almost $4 (£2) a gallon, consumers are trading in their Humvees and Ford Explorers so fast that for the first time, one in five cars sold in the US is now a compact or subcompact. In another first, sales of six-cylinder vehicles were bypassed by smaller four-cylinder, mostly Japanese, cars in April.

In some cities sales of hybrid cars outnumber the lumbering vehicles that are still pouring off the assembly lines at Ford and General Motors in Detroit. The occasional Smart car can even be seen nipping through the traffic. "The era of the truck-based large SUVs is over," said Michael Jackson, boss of the country's largest car retailer Autonation. Another car executive called it the most dramatic shift in the market in 30 years.

full article

No comments: