May 21, 2005

It’s About Time! America’s “Love Affair With SUVs Begins To Cool”

I know there are good, decent, generous and kind people who have purchased SUVs. In fact, I know some personally - family, friends, one of my most delightful neighbors. But let's face it. An SUV says: "I don't give a crap about anyone else on the road."

"I don't care if I'm more likely to kill and maim someone else if I'm in an accident (SUV bumpers are dangerously high when in collision with conventional cars); I'm more important than anyone else."

"I don't care if people behind me can't see ahead."

"I don't care if parking spaces have to be bigger, if roads have to be wider, if I take up more than a fair share of space in crowded urban areas."

And, of course, "I don't care at all about generating more polution than necessary to get where I'm going. I don't care that I use more gasoline than needed for my trips."

Well, it seems that some SUV owners are finally paying attention to gas-mileage issues -- of course, not because they suddenly realize the impact their wastefulness has on the environment, or the danger they cause to fellow citizens, or how they're aiding our dependence on Middle Eastern fuel sources. However, one thing that's changed is the rising prices of gasoline and how it affects their wallets.

Aside: Our "expensive" gasoline is still bargain-basement priced compared to most of the world. In the UK., prices averaged more than $5/gallon; in Norway, also a major oil producer, they hovered around $5 -- and that was last year, before the latest price hikes! (see Money magazine chart). But I digress....

Anyway, today's New York Times has a front-page story that claims "America's love affair with SUV's is taking a breather. For the first time in 14 years, the passenger car is actually taking sales back at the expense of SUVs and other trucks, according to an analysis of auto sales data."

I don't think SUVs do much for livable communities. Beside the psychological concept of people closing themselves off in armored-vehicle-like behemoths, supersized vehicles require ever more space to be given to roads, parking and garages. All those things take a toll on a community's sense of place, making a neighborhood less appealing for strolling and simply being outside, sharing communal space.

No comments:

Post a Comment