It seems that a month of high gas prices have been enough to weaken the American resolve of driving the biggest vehicles on the planet. Most reasons for why we drove larger vehicles than, say, our European or Asian counterparts was that we had more space and longer distances to travel. I think it’s pretty clear that relatively cheap fuel was the reason. It simply didn’t cost us much to drive a vehicle capable of carrying nine people but with all the seats but on empty.
Now that times have changed, GM — of all companies — appears to be blinking and changing course as a result. They have announced they are going to axe the Tahoe, Suburban, and Yukon as soon as next year. With Hummer sale down a whopping 60% in May, they appear to be poised to kill of that badge once and for all. For the past two decades, with SUV sales being so hot, car companies like GM have put a lot of effort into selling those vehicles. Those chickens have long since hatched and, with GM’s total sales dropping 27%1, apparently just got their necks wrung. I’m not trying to pick on GM. In fact, I want to point them out as an example of a company that seems to be thinking about what the roads will look like in the next decade or two. They deserve some credit for killing off some of the gas-guzzling dinosaurs and putting some R&D work in to some alternate vehicles. I get the impression that it is more than just greenwashing with them, now; they seem to feel a real threat to their business in the long run.
And to be honest, if it took only about six weeks of high gas prices to make this kind of change, we may see much more of this in the near future; not in decade or more. I hate the cost of high gas prices as much as anyone. However, I once again have to admire the side effects of what the can do for reducing carbon emissions.
- I’d be mistaken if I didn’t ackowledge that the total economic picture in America is worse than a year ago. Not just gas prices, but across the board. However, the two are pretty tightly linked and economic downturns are just as assured to happen eventually as rising gas prices. [↩]