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The End of the SUV

   Got an email alerting me to this interesting piece about gas prices and the future of the SUV. The argument is that the market for SUVs is crashing. Detroit is in trouble. A key passage:

    "Detroit marketers in particular created "the need" and "the want" here, folks - and don't for a minute be misled into thinking otherwise. Detroit single-handedly pushed an egregiously callous marketing strategy that revolved around launching more and more variations of larger SUVs into this market and creating the demand for vehicles that were a dismal combination of laughable space utilization, miserable handling dynamics and piss-poor fuel economy - wasteful mastodons that made little sense even under the most wildly optimistic scenarios."

  Maybe the auto industry will decide, purely in response to market forces, to commit to greater fuel efficiency -- even if the Bush/Cheney crowd is reluctant to push for conservation or sacrifice of any kind. I am kind of glad that gas prices are obscene. I can bike to work. Or take the bus. Or just tele-commute. Or call in sick. I have lots of options! Admittedly, the poor get shafted when gas prices rise, and that troubles me, and also I guess the fact that this might wreck the economy and plunge us into a recession and maybe trigger another resource war culminating in the end of the world. But whatever! Americans need to rethink the way they burn fuel. We all talk a good game about global warming and the Kyoto Protocol and receding glaciers and whatnot, but most of us still don't think twice about filling the tank and hitting the highway ("Road trip!!!"). My neighborhood is lousy with professional environmentalists, but we also have quite an impressive fleet of SUVs, and are fully prepared, collectively, to drive to the top of any mountain that might suddenly descend upon Northwest Washington.

    (For the record, my primary car is a Honda Accord with 6 cylinders -- the extra 2 being necessary because I am, needless to say, bad to the bone. Just thinking about Accord, I find myself going "Vroom, vroom." The second car is a repugnant, ancient Taurus wagon, which desperately needs to be pushed off a cliff, or maybe dropped in the sea to serve as a coral reef.)

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 7, 2005; 11:52 AM ET
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