"Luxury sport utilities are becoming decidedly less cool than just three years ago, when they were the hottest things on wheels and dealers had long waiting lists for the most popular models," the New York Times reports today in an article titled Trading the Hummer for Honda.
"On top of the sales drop that has hurt all sport utilities, fewer than half the people who bought luxury S.U.V.'s are going back for another one. Incentives for the vehicles are at record levels and for the first time, luxury automakers are paying out more for rebates and lease deals to entice consumers to buy luxury S.U.V.'s than to buy cars.
"The higher cost of gasoline plays a big role, as it has for the last year of high oil prices. But wealthy buyers, who used to shrug off the expense, are shifting gears, as excessive energy consumption is becoming socially embarrassing."
It's about time. There is simply nothing positive for the community at large when private citizens are roaring through our streets in tank-sized humvees. Obviously, gas guzzling is an issue -- besides the unneeded excess pollution that all of us have to breathe, there's that capitalist supply-and-demand problem, especially for a commodity like oil, where increased demand means supplies have to come from increasing less efficient, more expensive sources.
But massively oversized vehicles cause other issues in the community:
* They are dangerous for the rest of us -- likely to cause more harm to others in an accident, and block the view of other drivers on the road and pulling out of parking lots
*They take up more room for parking and within travel lanes than conventional autos
* They cause more wear and tear on roads.
The message they send, intentional or not, is: I don't give a damn whether I'm hogging an unfair share of road and energy resources, whether I'm more likely to kill or maim you in an accident or if you can't see the road in front of you or oncoming cars when you're pulling out of a parking space. I don't care about the common, public space around me; I'm doing all I can to wall myself off from it. It's all about me me me and flaunting the fact that I have enough money to ride around in a civilian tank.
I'm far from alone in my distaste for such vehicles. Says the Times: "For Janna Jensen, it was the dirty looks and nasty gestures from other drivers that finally persuaded her to give up the family's $55,000 Hummer H2."