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Surprise, surprise...

Dee-Ann Durbin
Associated Press
Apr. 24, 2004 12:00 AM

WASHINGTON - People bought more sport utility vehicles, minivans and other light trucks than cars in all but four states last year, the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers said Friday, and analysts predict those states will switch over soon.

Cars barely edged out light trucks in Rhode Island, New York, Connecticut and New Jersey, according to the Washington-based group, which represents 10 automakers.

In every other state, light trucks were king, accounting for 54 percent of car sales nationally.

"What you're really seeing is that people are purchasing vehicles that meet their needs, and light trucks, they're finding, are versatile, comfortable and they're safe," spokesman Charles Territo said.

Territo said 2000 was the first year in which U.S. consumers bought more light trucks than cars. He predicts that in the next two years, customers in every state will buy more light trucks than cars.

Mike Wall, an analyst with the automotive forecasting firm of CSM Worldwide, said some of that success comes from crossover vehicles, which are often classified as light trucks and have more cargo room but also have better fuel economy and ride more like a car.

He expects the trend to continue as Japanese automakers add more light trucks to their lines.

Dan Becker of the Sierra Club says the light-truck boom has more to do with the estimated $13 billion auto companies spend on advertising each year.

"They have been putting most of that money marketing the vehicles on which they make the biggest margin," Becker said.

Becker said rising gas prices have not changed consumers' buying habits. In the past eight years, he said, gas prices have increased 50 percent but there has been no increase in the number of people using mass transit or buying smaller cars.

While he would like for the government to mandate new regulations to force higher gas taxes, Becker said a better way to clean up vehicles is for the government to push new technology, including fuel-efficient hybrid engines and fuel-cell vehicles.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration increased the fuel economy requirements for light trucks in 2003. Under those rules, automakers will have to meet an average of 22.2 miles per gallon in 2007, up from the current 20.7 mpg. The required standard for cars is 27.5 mpg.

Southfield, Mich.-based R.L. Polk and Co. provided the sales data to the alliance, Territo said.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/business/articles/0424trucksvscars24.html#
 

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Just a little nutty
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Interesting article but I can't help myself from asking a question.

Any idea why they like to combine "sport utility vehicles, minivans and other light trucks" all into one category called "light trucks"?

When they combine all those different types of vehicles into a single category and compare it against just cars, the stats seem a little biased.

Quite interesting how the Sierra Club takes notice to this article and brings environmenal issues to the table. . . especially since I also belong to the SC. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Whatchamacallit said:
Interesting article but I can't help myself from asking a question.

Any idea why they like to combine "sport utility vehicles, minivans and other light trucks" all into one category called "light trucks"?

When they combine all those different types of vehicles into a single category and compare it against just cars, the stats seem a little biased.
Not 100% certain, but my feeling is that this group of vehicles are not governed by the same fuel mileage ratings as passenger cars? Light trucks also have standards that are far more generous in emissions and safety requirements.

To blur the lines, many manufacturers will classify or re-classify their vehicles into select groups in order to help their CAFE numbers.

Subaru has recently done this with their updated Outback model. Despite being based on the Legacy sedan as it has been for years, they just decided to reclassify it as a truck.

What's more incredible is that the government goes along with this! It's one thing to do this with a new model, but the Outback has been around for years!
 

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Good point, Hip.

Speaking of Subarus, they really do a good job of blurring the lines between the categories.

Take the Forester. It's marketed as a SUV. In fact, it's Consumer Report's top rated small SUV.

Yet, everytime I look at one, I'm thinking it's a stationwagon, not a SUV. Subaru already marketing the Outback Wagon as a stationwagon pretty much forces people to look at Forester as a SUV.
 
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