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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Car and Driver

posted by on May 6 at 13:59 PM

Sales of new pickup trucks and SUVs aren’t just slowing—folks are desperately trying to unload the SUVs and pickup trucks they already own.

After paying $75 to fill his black Dodge Ram pickup truck for the third time in a week, Douglas Chrystall couldn’t take it anymore.

Feeling pinched at the pump, and guilty as well, Chrystall, a 39-year-old father from Wellesley, is putting ads online to sell the truck, and the family’s other gas-guzzler, a Jeep Grand Cherokee. He knows it will be tough to unload them because he is one of a growing number of consumers downsizing to smaller, more fuel-efficient cars….

“The SUV craze was a bubble and now it is bursting,” said George Hoffer, an economics professor at Virginia Commonwealth University whose research focuses on the automotive industry. “It’s an irrational vehicle. It’ll never come back.”

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Posted by brett | May 6, 2008 2:09 PM

I completely agree with Prof. Hoffer. Just like every other irrational exuberance that grips this country, Americans have always had this strange belief that God granted them the right to gas that's cheaper than in every other industrialized country, and that was never going to change. Ridiculous. Just like the house prices that were always going to climb and the tech market that was only going to get bigger, this was bound to end.

I have zero sympathy. Cheap gas stifles public transit, it leads to urban sprawl, it encourages SUVs which are environmental disasters (and terrifying for me who drives a small car), discourage any sort of increase in fuel efficiency standards--in short, it sucks.

All the people who're now whining about their SUVs being more expensive have only themselves, their selfishness, and their lack of foresight to blame.

Posted by Dean | May 6, 2008 2:10 PM

HA HA HA HA HA !!!!! This totally made my day!!! I hope his family went without food as "dad" had to feed the machine to make him feel better about his small cock!

And TWO SUVS's!!!!???? HA HA HA!!

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | May 6, 2008 2:10 PM

Bah. I'm not gonna throw my lot in with economists.

Posted by Bub | May 6, 2008 2:17 PM

About time.

Posted by Judith | May 6, 2008 2:18 PM

Bets that one of the major candidates proposes a bailout of SUV drivers who are upside-down in their car loans?

Posted by eclexia | May 6, 2008 2:18 PM

Sucks to be an idiot, I suppose.

Posted by Miss Stereo | May 6, 2008 2:24 PM

I have a Cherokee too (nongrand type) and have had no problems, what are people complaining about?

Oh yea, I take the bus to work and often to play. It's amazing what a bit of sacrifice does.

Posted by El Seven | May 6, 2008 2:26 PM

Things will never be like this again... unless the real price of gasoline falls back to 1996 levels (similar to 1956 levels, for those running the numbers). Quantity demanded follows price. Who'd have guessed?

Posted by Greg | May 6, 2008 2:30 PM

It's an impractical vehicle for most people in most parts of the country. Here in Colorado, it's about the most practical thing you can possibly own, and they're never going to go away, even if gas hits $10 a gallon.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 2:38 PM

When I was first learning to drive in the late 80's, seems like every jackass teenager (including myself) had a dirt cheap two-ton car from antiquity that was no longer feasible to keep roadworthy, save by a constituency of impulsive young people that just wanted a ride with some (too much) muscle.

God help us now as we head back into that era, only this time it'll be 7ft tall F250's and Escalades. Vans almost seem quaint, by comparison.

Posted by Dougsf | May 6, 2008 2:43 PM

Sweet... I'm gonna get a sweet ski rig for cheep. Hope it has a DVD Player!

Posted by Jimmy | May 6, 2008 2:44 PM

Of course they'll come back. That's what all the Impala owners said in the 1980s when gas prices seemed to skyrocket. As soon as they dropped, the SUV was king. McCain and Clinton will solve this problem by DROPPING gas prices. Americans will have their BFCs.

Posted by Algernon | May 6, 2008 2:56 PM

it is irrational if it doesnt achieve what you want it to.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 6, 2008 3:08 PM

If your SUV doesn't get 30 mpg, ditch it.

No, that was not a typo.

Ditch it now - it won't get better - it will get worse.

(amusing comment on today's WSJ wrapup of the eight plug-in hybrids is that the NY Times went on about the 30 mpg SUV you can get from Honda, the Fit, and how it's much better than other vehicles and thus is selling fast)

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 3:12 PM

if you go by the austrian concept of value that is. if you want to achieve low cost per fillup it is irrational, if you value the capacity to carry things then it isn't irrational.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 6, 2008 3:12 PM

Clearly, we need a gas tax holiday.

Posted by tsm | May 6, 2008 3:13 PM

Depending on which Ram he has, it gets between 14 and 20 MPG highway, and has a 26 or 30 gallon tank. Three fillups in a week? 26x14x3 is more than a thousand miles, or 156 miles a day, MINIMUM. Why, dude, why?

Unless he drives the ethanol-capable one (E85). Then his highway mileage is THIRTEEN MPG. Yes, that's right: according to the EPA, the EXACT SAME vehicle outfitted to run E85 uses between 28% and 55% MORE FUEL than the gasoline-only model -- and not just more fuel, but MORE GASOLINE.

What the fuck? And we're paying massive subsidies for this? Does anyone need more proof that ethanol is one of the biggest scams in the history of the universe?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 3:24 PM

The Fit is a terrific car, but it's not an SUV. It's just a regular ol' hatchback with a slightly boxy shape.

But, Bellevue Ave, you can carry as much stuff in lots of non-gigantic vehicles. SUVs are notoriously TERRIBLE in their utilization of space.

And they're unsafe; their reputation for safety (which is mostly based on the erroneous belief that the safest way to drive is to survive collisions with smaller cars) is fallacious. The only place they actually make you safer is in certain kinds of traction situations, which -- even in Denver in the winter -- are exceedingly rare -- and are usually counteracted by poorer driving techniques.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 3:32 PM

For a short period right out of college I drove my parent's old(er) Expedition... that thing was a monstrous tank. Even at 2.50 cents a gallon it cost $75 bucks to fill up, and cost $25 in gas to drive round trip from Bellingham to Seattle.

It was nice to feel above the traffic on I-5, but god help you if you ever had to parallel park... I certainly don't miss it.

Posted by UNPAID BLOGGER | May 6, 2008 3:37 PM

Fnarf, if the person values carrying space, or the look of the SUV over other vehicles it isn't irrational to buy one. Certainly there might be better options available for cargo space but the person bought the SUV based on their preference at the time. People can be wrong about things.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | May 6, 2008 3:48 PM
today's WSJ wrapup of the eight plug-in hybrids
As usual Will poisons his own well by exaggerating the facts beyond recognition. To wit:
They profiled six cars, not eight.
Two of them are not working on plug-in hybrids, but pure electrics
Two of the cars are aimed at the big-money sportscar market, including the Fisker plug-in hybrid, which is expected to sell for $100k -- not exactly aimed at the practical city-car market
None of the profiled plug-in hybrids are in production; the only car that's already sold (and sold out) is the Tesla all-electric sportscar.
The most promising of these cars is probably the all-electric Think, from Norway, though it's unclear if it will ever be sold in the US. Gordon Murray sounds like he's going to have something AWESOME, but that's because it's just an idea so far.
In the meantime there are a couple of diesels that get 60 MPG (according to their manufacturers, not the EPA) that make perfect sense for America, but we can't have them: the VW Golf blumotion and the Mini. These are the cars that Will should be talking about, but of course, he's never heard of them.
Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 3:53 PM

@21 -- is that all you've got? You're defending people whom you admit are wrong? You're right, there's no answer to that. Should we accept people who shoot their neighbors in the mistaken belief that it will make them look cool, too?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 3:56 PM

yippie. . .die SUV's die - they totally suck.
You have a need for one for your ski trip and you take a bus or a compact otherwise that's great.
BUT too many breeders hauling a brat around every day all day when a car will do and single people poking around in those road hogs. I love the ones that never get dirty too. You can tell they never go to the mountains in that damn thing. Just poke around the fucking malls.
The greeds who drive them all over the place are full of them selves justifying the damn things.

Posted by irl | May 6, 2008 3:59 PM

I look forward to the glut of people trying to unload their Hummers. However, with the glut of large vehicles there will be a growing business in after market conversions to all electric, to say nothing of the possibilities of more families living in their cars. Ah yes, the solution to the housing crisis.

Posted by LMSW | May 6, 2008 4:06 PM

No, if you actually read the text, they refer to the other two. Although they're diesel, but that's still a "car".

And it's classed as an SUV for crash tests, so the Fit is an SUV.

Now, how do you defend your backing of E85, which is ethanol, thus creating food riots in Somalia and Haiti?

Two of the cars are 2008 production - which means they are literally being manufactured and shipped as we speak - they don't magically appear at a dealership when they make them in Germany, they have to be outfitted, inspected, painted, put on boats, shipped, transhipped across the US to the dealers, hidden in large warehouses until release time, shipped locally to the dealer (some come early), and then sold.

It's May. They are in production. n00b.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 4:06 PM

1. You still don't know what "n00b" means.

2. I have never backed E85, nor is it possible for any sentient (or honest) person to claim that I have.

3. The Fit is not classed as an SUV; it's a hatchback. Seriously, how can you lie about crap like this when it's so easy to look up the truth?

4. The WSJ article, which is here does mention in passing other vehicles, but they are not "profiled" which is the word you used.

5. They are also NOT DIESELS, as you claim -- again, another lie that is trivially easy to explode. Why, Will, WHY?

6. The two cars that are "in 2008 production" are the Think, which isn't going to be sold in the US (and isn't a plug-in hybrid, as you claimed), and the Tesla, which isn't a plug-in Hybrid, and sells for $100,000. How many are you buying (they're sold out, by the way).

7. Neither of those two vehicles is from Germany, as you claim. Only the Loremo is, which isn't expected to be sold until 2010. What warehouse is it being hidden in, again?

These are on top of the errors, omissions, and outright lies I mentioned in a previous post. Your error-to-sentence ratio is creeping upwards of one, Will. You should maybe stop.

Of course, you could always fall back on the old "I meant the Canadian edition" lie. Maybe the Canadian Wall Street Journal had a different article?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 4:19 PM

Yikes, speaking of error ratios.

Why don't you tell just exchange email addresses and be more direct about it? Or fuck and get the angst out.

Posted by El Seven | May 6, 2008 4:27 PM

Joke of the day to El Seven. Ha ha ha!

Posted by him | May 6, 2008 4:35 PM

No, El Seven, no! The W/S tirades are Fnarf at his finest! Someone's got to say something, for God's sake.

Sorry, Will. I do admire your tenacity.

Posted by Irena | May 6, 2008 4:40 PM

@27 - lol, I was there before it was the Information Superhighway, back when we handtoggled our 110 baud modems and typed directly into the mainframes by jacking the console while the operator went to the bathroom ...

I think the problem is you're in denial that your SUV is worth less now than it was when you bought it.

Get over it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 4:59 PM

Fnarf, not to interrupt your catfight with Will, but I wasn't so much referring to Denver in the winter (although that can be an issue) as most anywhere in the mountains at any time of year. But yeah, especially winter up there as well.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 5:02 PM

I agree @28 for the win.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 5:02 PM

Yeah, ignore the point, and spew some fake tech jargon again, that always works. You're such a fraud, Will. "Jacking the console" indeed.

Every (non-collectible) vehicle is worth less now than when it was first bought, of course. Another meaningless statement from the master of meaningless statements.

And, needless to say, I have never owned an SUV, though I did rent one once, which was necessary on the farm tracks of remote Garfield County, Montana. Will's been trying that one on for a while now, because he can't distinguish between "a Hummer H3 isn't really any worse than a Yukon" and "I love Hummers". His mind can't grasp fine distinctions like that (finer than boulders, that is).

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 5:10 PM

I still miss my Grand Cherokee. It had pillow leather seats that were more comfortable than my couch at home. Hands down the best rig I've driven on the snow and kicked ass for road trips.

I could get "reasonable" mileage out of it if I babied the accelerator and kept extra weight (gas) out of it. Sold it to get a stripped down vanagon (no camping stuff).

The vanagon isn't great for mpg, but it's easy to maximize its potential for good mileage because the small engine makes you drive very consciously/conservatively.

My dream would be an EV Doka (truck backend on a van). Plenty of space for batteries and not too much weight for the vehicle itself.

Posted by drew | May 6, 2008 5:24 PM

@34 - silly Fnarf, if only your perception of reality matched reality, instead of the fantasy world you live in.

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 5:33 PM

I love the "oh no where I live an SUV is essential!11!" What-ever. How is it we survived the entire century without SUVs and Hummers? How do those poor Norwegians and Finns and Icelanders cope!?!?!?!

And I live in LA, where there is categorically ZERO need for an SUV, and the streets are packed with them--as I drive through Beverly Hills with idiot breeder housewives in their hot pants on their cellphones driving like idiots, and clustering around the malls to buy their handbags. What is the need? Even a family living here--why on earth do you need a big-ass SUV?

I grew up in ice-bound Canada and we never had anything even like an SUV, and somehow we managed just fine. And when I go back, there are like a tenth as many SUVs as there are here in Los Angeles.

So anyone whining about "omg I live in the rugged wasteland and simply cannot survive without my gas-guzzling battlewagon" are really just soft.

Posted by Dean | May 6, 2008 5:42 PM

Will, why won't you address any of the points I've made? Why can't you at least try to defend your statements? Is it because they are indefensible? Is it because, once backed into a corner, you have no other options but to either change the subject, laugh it off, or admit that you're a lying shithead?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 5:51 PM

And before someone goes on at me about mountain passes in Colorado or wherever, although my evidence is only anecdotal, I was in Tahoe in the winter of 04-05 where they got mountains of snow every day. We had rented a Taurus, and put chains on the front. And it was the SUVs ("oooh look at me, just 'cos I'm in an SUV I can do anything" that were spun out on the side of the road. We had no problems.

And even if I were to concede the case that in some areas it is simply impossible to survive without an SUV (in which case you have only yourselves to blame for living there), the simple fact is that there is zero need for an SUV in any normal non-mountain city, yet they are all over the South, SoCal, the northeast, the midwest.

Posted by Dean | May 6, 2008 5:53 PM

Dean, have you seen the movie "The Shining?" That was filmed entirely in Colorado. And that road is actually pretty accessible compared to some of the roads I've been on. Around here, when a road is rated 4WD only, they're not talking about a Suburban. Some of the "roads" I've been on have been seriously fucking hairy in a Jeep Wrangler . . . in the summer. But I suppose if you really want to do it the way they did it before 4WDs, you could always bring a mule train.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 6:08 PM

But probably 90% of the SUV drivers in Colorado never drive on those kinds of roads.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 6:09 PM

Dean, totally agree. Way back when, there was the wonderful Ford Hi-Boy. A vehicle served people very well, but styling shouted "you only buy me if you can use me."

An all-wheel drive car/snow tires does as well in 98% of horrible conditions than all but a few SUVs. Also, you could haul more cargo in a 4 cylinder, 1982 Toyota pickup than you can in most modern SUVs.

But no matter, they WILL be back one day. Maybe not in the same form, but practicality and consumer culture don't need to jive to be true.

Posted by Dougsf | May 6, 2008 6:24 PM

I do remember back in the 70s when I skied, and my family made it to the slopes in six different states and provinces in a regular passenger car, and so did everyone we ever went skiing with. You didn't need a truck unless you lived on a farm, and we didn't know any farmers. Now, virtually all of the people in that category feel the need for a monster truck of some kind.

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 6:34 PM

Fnarf, I completely agree that not everyone, even in Colorado (and especially in Denver) NEEDS an SUV. Can't speak for the farmers and ranchers, cuz I'm not one of them, but I see them pulling their horse trailers down the road, and don't think they'd have much luck doing that with a Prius. But we basically are in agreement, my point was only that there are exceptions to any sweeping generalization, which "nobody needs an SUV" certainly was.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 6:47 PM

I just had to buy a new vehicle. I'm disabled and need to carry a power wheelchair.

I had REALLY hoped to get a Nissan Versa, but the smallest vehicle that can carry the wheelchair is a mini-van. Not quite as bad as an SUV. But way more than I need except for the damn wheelchair.

There is no public transportation I can use. Anyone have any other ideas??

Posted by Ayden | May 6, 2008 7:24 PM

Afraid not. Everyone in your situation I've ever encountered has had a modified minivan.

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 6, 2008 7:34 PM

Ayden, did you look at the Scion xB? It should hold a wheelchair with ease. Maybe I'm wrong, I dunno. But regardless, you get what you need to get; you shouldn't be prohibited from getting an SUV or a van, and you shouldn't feel guilty either. How about the hybrid SUVs, or are they all too small?

Posted by Fnarf | May 6, 2008 7:36 PM

Thanks, 52-80 and Fnarf. I didn't think I had much of a choice, either.

I haven't looked at a Scion - and will definitely check it out. The Versa looked so POSSIBLE at first. The saleman even told me it would work - until the manager of the Mobility Center called him.

The hybrids might be big enough - but their cost is more than my bank account can handle.

Regardless, I truly appreciate the support. I'm such a frigging environmentalist, it HURT to buy that van.

On the bright side, I did get my bird-feeders filled today ;-)) The birdies were very happy.

Posted by Ayden | May 6, 2008 9:28 PM

Sorry, I was busy watching Clinton lose the nomination ... what were you saying, Fnarf?

Excuse me while I attach this teletype printer to the line ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | May 6, 2008 10:20 PM

As another Denver resident, I can testify that 90% of our SUV's are being driven by tiny, middle aged suburban housewives who only take it offroad when they miss the drive pulling in, and haul nothing heavier than their shopping and their overweight offspring.

5280, if you're talking about Kubrik's Shining, that was filmed in Oregon. The 90's TV version was filmed here, though.

Posted by Matt from Denver | May 6, 2008 10:30 PM

Shit - that's Kubrick, not Kubrik, @ 50.

Will, you ought to know that, although I don't know what Fnarf and you are arguing about most of the time, I always believe Fnarf because he cites facts and figures and you don't. Just so you know how you're coming across to the hoi polloi.

Posted by Matt from Denver | May 6, 2008 10:32 PM

The Shining = Mt. Hood

Posted by ecce homo | May 7, 2008 12:31 AM

Way derailed here, but Shining exterior shots = Mt. Hood (Timberline Lodge, really cool arts and craft-era interior). The actual hotel (interiors) = Colorado, and soundstage. Opening scenes = Montana.

Posted by Dougsf | May 7, 2008 12:49 PM

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