Just as gas prices have soared to their highest, inflation-adjusted prices, SUV sales, including the new 'crossovers', have rebounded following a two-year drop in popularity, to the chagrin of many environmentalists.
Auto industry figures show that after a 24 percent drop in SUV sales from the first quarter of 2004 to the same period of 2006, sales of these gas guzzlers have clearly rebounded - big time.
"The numbers for large SUVs rose nearly 6 percent in the first quarter of 2007, and the April figures were up 25 percent from April 2006, including those of GMC's Yukon XL - a whopping 72 percent, according to automakers' statistics provided by Edmunds.com, an automotive research Web site."
"We've always said that large SUVs are never going the way of the dodo," said Alex Rosten, an analyst at Edmunds.com. "There will always be a demand for them. No other vehicle provides such capabilities -- the sheer cargo and passenger space, and the towing capacity."
"One explanation for the renewed interest is that U.S. automakers are selling a more modern fleet of SUVs, some of which, including 'crossovers', consume moderately less gas than their predecessors...Crossover utility vehicles are similar to SUVs but, because their design is based on a car rather than a truck, they ride more smoothly and, in general, they have better fuel economy."
"At the Union of Concerned Scientists, where global warming and fuel economy are on everyone's minds, vehicles engineer and consultant Dan MacKenzie said, "The larger point of all this is the need to raise fuel economy standards in this country. The automakers are not selling vehicles that take full advantage of the technology available today."
"We know the technology is out there to increase fuel economy about 60 percent without compromising size (of the vehicle)," MacKenzie said. "It could go from just under 25 miles per gallon -- the government's average of all cars and trucks -- to about 40 miles per gallon."