Gas prices dip; SUV, truck sales soar

Are USA Citizens really that short sighted? I own an suv out of need, but if I did not need one would not buy anything like it. 2015 car purchase, sedan 36 mpg hwy for wife .

Yes, many people are indeed that short sighted

I’ve seen my own coworkers, relatives, friends, etc. buy big SUVs when gas prices were down. Countless times

These same people are the ones CRYING when gas is up again

More than that, I believe some people drive reasonable cars, but are secretly miserable doing it

When gas prices go down, their true colors come out and they buy that big SUV, because they think they can afford to operate it forever. Then, when the gas prices are up, they start to panic

I’ve seen people buy gigantic SUVs that they weren’t even comfortable driving, because of the size. But it was more important to be king of the road

The market watch program on NPR did a special on this issue. They wanted to show we are not that shallow. But they found that for majority of buyers, the gas price makes the decision on big vs small. There was one guy that had done a very complicated excel spread sheet to see which car is financially more practical for him; he had concluded a used Honda Civic would be it. But he ended buying a new Ford Escape (& did not need a CUV either). Their conclusion was that a car purchase for Americans is mostly an emotional decision.

This is what I was affraid would happen. The only salvation is, trucks and SUVs are mandated to get better fuel economy. Without these mandates, gas prices would completely control the fuel economy of new cars by size alone and we would be trading more often. At least now when you get a new SUV, the compacts get 30 highway and full size trucks can average over 20 mpg in base form. Really, how many think the price of gas will stay low for an extended period. We are being played like violin, esp Saudi while they dump 400k more barrels per day on the market. It’s great when the middle class has 70 billion more dollars to plays with…but no so great if we keep jumping back to gas guzzlers. I will keep supporting those mandates for trucks and SUVS to keep our eye on the long term outlook…

“Yes, many people are indeed that short sighted.”

Yes…I was working in the RV world back several years ago when gas went into the $4 a gallon range. Our sales fell from over 30 units a month to around 5 or so. RV rentals went through the roof and the funny thing was… rentals brought in more revenue than sales. Parts was also a big revenue generator because people were fixing older RV’s instead of trading them in on new RV’s. When gas prices fell…our sales went right back to normal. Another curious thing was that RV rentals stayed high because so many people discovered that an RV rental made more sense than owning one.

When, I,was,younger,I drove a Rambler and then a Ford Maverick to save on gas with better mileage. On,the Maverick, however, the gas savings went to buy Preparation H because of the Maverick’s wheelbarrow ride.

MPG is something I always think about when I purchase a vehicle. But it’s not the ONLY criteria. I own a mid-size SUV. If gas prices were $5/gal I’d still have bought the same vehicle because I need a vehicle that can tow my pop-up.

@Triedaq Yes, we had a Mercury Comet with the sleaziest upholstery I’ve ever encountered in a car. The ride was punishing as well. When we finally gave it to my mother in law she bought a special sheepskin cushion to make the ride tolerable.

Yes, people are very short sighted. The service life of cars is now close to 20 years, and during that time we can have SEVERAL price cycles for gasoline.

$40k Tahoe usually requires a big monthly payment. If u can afford it, gas bill is usually not a big deal. Of course the US/Saudi plan to crash oil prices and make Russia default on its loans due to low oil income is a bigger worry.

For us, it would be great to get good gas mileage, but utility and comfort are more important. I frequently haul passengers with their musicsl instruments and I really make use of our minivan. My wife had an administrative position at a university and she had to be there even on days when the institution was closed because of snow. Our 4Runner always got her there.
Comfort is,another factor. At one time we had a 1990 Ford Aerostar van and a,1993 Oldsmobile 88. The Aerostat was much more comfortable on long trips. Gasoline economy is a distant third behind utility and comfort for us.

Is anybody here really surprised at this? People like big cars. When cars were forced to be small to meet CAFE, buyers turned to trucks, which got very car-like and plush because that is what people wanted. If they can’t buy an Electra 225 then, by gosh, they’re gonna get a Suburban. A new Subby now gets about 23 mpg highway so the risk is lower, but memories are short.

"If gas prices were $5/gal I’d still have bought the same vehicle because I need a vehicle that can tow my pop-up. "

Like many, we are stuck with vehicles with good ground clearance and good capacity though one is more car like and more efficient. That doesn’t bode well for an eco car owning either. So, like you, I am some happy, at least for the time being, that gas prices are down. I am taking this opportunity to pile up miles on the truck when we travel in one car. Others I feel are doing the same. When the price goes up, our eco option will have fewer miles.

“Gasoline economy is a distant third behind utility and comfort for us.”

For now…let the price go up to $5 a gallon on a fixed income, and it becomes a BIG concern; at least to a not so distant third. Like “comfy, but not that much and functional, but I can do without this or that” as a thought. I know both of you like your 4Runners…but would you buy another just as inefficient at $5 a gallon or look for other options ?

“When, I,was,younger” That could have been yesterday. ;-()

I was looking at new vehicle suggestions for work, the Equinox looked nice, the new wave of suv, ie urban assault vehicles, towing hitch not standard killed me.

I think I agree with @mustangman I think people in the US really prefer the larger vehicles for various reasons that Europeans don’t care about. So the desire and demand is always there regardless of gas prices and as soon as the prices get reasonable they naturally move toward the larger vehicles. We have lots of stuff to haul like boats, snow mobiles, golf clubs, etc. and we have long expanses to drive without trains and taxis and buses at every small port. Our needs are just different and trying to fit everyone into that micro sized car for economy is like the square peg in a round hole. We have Lowes and Home Depot and more due to our life styles and trying to fit a bunch of 2x4s into a micro car just doesn’t meet the needs.

“We have Lowes and Home Depot and more due to our life styles and trying to fit a bunch of 2x4s into a micro car just doesn’t meet the needs.”

This is something I’ve always wondered: how does the Euro DIY enthusiast get by? I mean, everybody drives tiny cars, but there’s only so many bricks you can haul with a Mini! Trailers no doubt make up…but they only can do so much.

Is there the same interest in DIY over there? I know they are much more regulation-happy than we are…so I guess there might not be such a thing as a “handyman”…does this carry down to not-for hire? (Does Brussels let you install your own toilets?)


You are correct . . . there is less DIY in europe

In the european countries I know, all the mechanics are certified. That means they completed an apprenticeship and weren’t allowed to turn wrenches for a living until they had that certificate in hand

It’s shocking how unregulated the auto repair industry is in the US . . . no offense intended to anybody

it’s just kind of interesting that the guy working on your brakes doesn’t legally have to be licensed, trained, certified, or anything, for that matter

I recall a conversation with my barber. He said they all have to be licensed

I’m not saying they don’t exist, but I only ran across one home center in England. It didn’t have nearly the stuff in it that we have here. A lot of knock down Ikea type cabinets and so on. Of course their buildings are concrete and block and not so much wood so everything ends up being more commercial type work-electrical, plumbing, masonry, etc. Even roofs are tile so no just nailing new shingles on. Weekends though, little car after little car pulling little trailers off to the lakes. In the other countries, I’ve been mostly in the big cities and the inner cities and never really got to see much of suburbia where the DIY places would be.

We in America have bigger trucks for Basic reasons…we have more land, more room and an nfrastructure that supports it. Our gas prices are lower with fewer taxes. Europeans would love to have our trucks if they got the same mileage and could fit. Look at Northern European apartment. They are almost minimalistic. We have lot’s of stuff. And , even if we don’t, we have a big truck to brag to everyone " well I could have lots of stuff I wanted " .

George Carlin’s routine on “stuff” could just as easily apply to trucks.
If you start regulating auto mechanics more, you indirectly start taking a bite out of our ability to own these things. You might have to pay these people a higher wage but more importantly, restrict where we can have our car serviced. There are good places to get your car basic service in the US without certifide mechanics. That would not exist as easily if everyone had to be certifide. We promote having everyone own a car or two and our economy depends upon it and having cheaper service is a means to that end.

The laissez faire culture that is currently being pushed as the ideal for all businesses has been in affect for auto repair in many regions since the Model T appeared. Here in Mississippi all that is required to open a shop is a retail license and a state tax number. But we have a great many excellent mechanics who work “off the grid” while some of the seemingly reputable shops with mechanics wearing patches on their sleeves think integrity is a European luxury car.

I don’t own a truck but I have a trailer instead. The only reason I would own a truck is to pull a bigger trailer with like a Morris Minor or 57 Mercury on the back.