The evidence keeps piling up that the SUV era is over. Here are the latest indicators:
Americans Keep Driving Less
Even as gas prices have begun to moderate at an average of $3.80 per gallon in the first weeks of August, the Transportation Department released new data showing that American drivers cut back driving 5% in June, the eighth straight month of decline. The year-over-year decline was a whopping 12.2 billion fewer miles traveled. Since November, Americans have driven 53 billion fewer miles than during the same period a year earlier.
America Is Buying Less Oil
Largely as a result of decreased miles driven, demand for oil in the U.S. shrunk by 800,000 barrels a day in the first half of 2008, according to a Department of Energy report out Tuesday. That's the biggest decline in a generation; demand had been rising since 1982.
Chrysler Stops Making Cherokees
With its sales down 23%, Chrysler will stop making an early icon of the SUV era, the Grand Cherokee, at a Detroit plant. Instead, it will retool the plant to produce smaller, fuel-efficient cars. It's only the latest announcement of its kind. Another from this week:
Ford Swaps the Fiesta for the F-Series
Ford will stop making its once-popular F-Series of pickup trucks at a Mexican plant, and instead build a European-style hatchback, the Fiesta, along with fuel-efficient two-door sedans. Similar changes are under way at two other Ford factories, as the company responds to an $8.7 billion second-quarter loss. It expects double-digit growth as it shifts its production from 20% small cars ... to 90%.
People Can't Wait to Buy Electric
More than 33,000 people have signed on to an unofficial waiting list to buy the Chevy Volt, General Motors' highly touted foray into the world of electric cars.
Used Cars Sales Are Lucrative Drive by any used car dealership, and the advertising is all about fuel-efficiency. Owners of even unassuming but fuel-efficient models, like the Chevy Prizm, are hounded with direct mail offers from used car lots, offering good trade-in deals. Consumer Reports offers this helpful list of the fuel-efficient used cars.
Numbers Don't Lie
In the first six months of 2008, sales of new small cars were up 11%, while sales of SUVs were down 14% and pickup trucks were down 23%.
Check out these interesting fuel-efficient concept cars that may one day hope to resurrect a better SUV.
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