Friday, December 31, 2010

SUVs lead U.S. auto sales growth
despite efforts to improve fuel efficiency

From Peter Whoriskey of The Washington Post on Dec. 29:
If U.S. consumers are in the midst of a green revolution, the news hasn't reached car buyers.

With the end of the recession, bigger vehicles have made a comeback, sales figures show, and it has come at the expense of smaller, more-efficient cars.

Leading the growth were sales of midsize sport-utility vehicles, which jumped 41 percent through the first 11 months of the year, led by vehicles such as the Jeep Grand Cherokee and the Honda Pilot, each of which get about 18 miles per gallon.

Sales of small cars, by contrast, remained flat despite otherwise surging demand for automobiles. Sales of the Toyota Corolla and the Honda Civic declined, and even the fuel-sipping Toyota Prius, the hybrid darling of the eco-conscious, dropped 1.7 percent.

"You have about 5 percent of the market that is green and committed to fuel efficiency," said Mike Jackson, the chief executive of AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the country. "But the other 95 percent will give up an extra 5 mpg in fuel economy for a better cup holder."

Overall, car and light-truck purchases climbed 12 percent from January to November, led by the consumer tilt toward SUVs and pickups, according to recent numbers from Autodata.


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