28 April 2008

Is there an SUV Graveyard?

Sort of like the legendary Elephant Graveyard? We may be headed that way, according to this AP News article. The article is interesting because it ties the cooling market for huge SUVs to something other than rising gas prices alone. There is the fact that baby-boomers have raised their families and are beginning to retire, the popularity of cross-over vehicles, the slowing of the construction industry (and hence the slowing of the pick-up market*), etc.

Anyway, it is fascinating. Could be an important change to our lives. If the high price of gas doesn't get you to economize somewhere, and your driving habits and choices is one easy place to begin, the rising cost of food will.

Here's the best quote from the article, I think:

Menicocci, a resident of the upscale Miami suburb of Palmetto Bay, recently placed his 2003 Chevrolet Tahoe with leather seats and 39,000 miles for sale on Craigslist for $16,000 — roughly $2,000 less than what his research determined was the Kelley Blue Book value.

He bought a 2003 Kia Spectra for $5,000 because he was tired of paying so much for gas with his heavy Tahoe. "I was wasting $30 a day compared to $10 a day," he said. [my emphasis]

"Everybody is like, `What is that? Is that the maid's car?'" said Menicocci, who sells marble and granite for a living. "But I don't care. At this point, I'm way past looks and appearances."

Mr Menicocci sounds like a smart, practical man: $30 a day versus $10. But why a used Kia when he could have gotten a used Toyota Echo with 40 mpg?

*the slowing of the pick-up market is much sadder to me than the slowing of the SUV market. The former were for working people to work with; the latter mainly so suburbanites could feel safe and make a statement about it. In college towns like mine, the locals drive pick-ups, the faculty drive either little cars or cheaper SUVs while the tourist drive big honking SUVs and Hummers.

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