Return of the gas-guzzler?

April 29, 2009
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Americans are gravitating toward the kinds of vehicles theyâ??ll be buying for the next several years, says one of the nationâ??s leading automotive forecasters.

John Wolkonowicz, senior auto analyst at IHS Global Insight, says the dominant vehicle of the future will be the crossover, which looks like a sport-utility vehicle but is built on a car platform. Think Ford Escape, Toyota Highlander and Chevy Traverse.

Big SUVs and full-size pickup trucks wonâ??t make a comeback despite low gas prices, Wolkonowicz says. Thatâ??s because memories of $4-a-gallon gas last year are still too fresh and painful.

However, he adds, now that gas is closer to $2, Americansâ?? brief flirtation last year with small cars wonâ??t last. Americans have never liked small cars, and they still donâ??t.

Crossovers offer a car-like ride, reasonably good fuel economy (by todayâ??s standards) along with plenty of interior room and enough size to make people feel safe.

Improving technology will enable carmakers to meet the new, 35-mpg fleet average by 2020, predicts Wolkonowicz, who drives a full-size American car for safety reasons.

However, if the new administration follows through on some of Obamaâ??s statements, the fleet likely will need to hit 50 mpg by about 2025. That would force the nation to smaller cars â?? think Europe. Until then, he thinks Americans will buy the biggest cars they feel they can afford.

â??Weâ??ll stick with what we like as long as we can. Itâ??s what people want.â??

Is his crossover forecast on the mark? And how do you feel about big vehicles and fuel economy standards? Are the standards high enough?
  • If the puppet masters behind Obama get all their wishes, it won't be long before gas prices are back up to $4 or even $5 per gallon with all of the new energy taxes being proposed. Like change, stay around, you're gonna hate it!!!
  • The crossover vehicle is a cross between a bus and a train. $4 or $5 per gallon gas is exactly what we need to discourage drivers from mindlessly fueling those guzzlers. I would never even consider a vehicle that size, so count me out. What would really help for the future of this country is for citizens to force politicians to develop alternative transportation.
  • John Wolkonowicz needs a new job. You can look to the EU to see how small efficient vehicles have taken over. Gas guzzlers are now 'Sunday' vehicles. Today, you get to work via public transportation or the most gas-sipping of cars. What motivates Wolkonowicz to make such prediction can only be imagined.

    We still have the fresh wounds of gouging fuel prices in mind, and know that a responsible approach to fuel consumption is mandated. Fuel efficient cars are where life will lead for us, and a big fat fuel pig isn't it. The hybrid technology we have today has a larger carbon footprint than many pure-play cars in either gas or fully EV technologies.

    This one's a stinker, folks. The reality is that 50mpg will be woeful in just a few years. You've seen the early edition of this problem in July of last year. It'll happen again, and until fuel conservation becomes very real, you'll pay a horrible price for the luxury of even 25mpg within a year.
  • Read America Alone by Mark Steyn and you'll see how successful the European economic model is - Europe is dying demographically - nothing wrong with public transportation but small cars are unsafe and don't work for large families irrespective of gas mileage. No large families and your population replacement rate reaches European and Japanese levels - in other words they are not having enough babies to replace the people dying. Why do you think vans and SUVs were so popular the last 30 years - baby boomer's babies! What about the Freedom to Choose whatever car or truck you want to buy? Who put the command and control leftists in charge of every aspect of our lives? What's next - determining what size house you can live in? How much food you can eat? Wait a minute those are their agenda also. VPBiden just announced that we shouldn't use public transportation so how are going to get around if we have no cars or one's too small for a family?
  • To quote the great Clarkson It's not what you drive, it's how you drive!

    To be more specific, driving a Civic hybrid back and forth from home in Carmel (let's say 106th and Ditch) to work at 200 N. Pennsylvania every work day all year would be 26.8 miles a day at 40 mpg. For 250 days a year at .67 gallons per day, that's 167.5 gallons of fuel. 2.1 tons of CO2 per year.

    Driving a Chevy Traverse back and forth from Fall Creek Place (23rd and Alabama) to work at 200 N. Penn every work day all year would be 4.5 miles a day at 17 mpg. For 250 days a year at .26 gallons per day, that's 66 gallons of fuel per year. 0.8 tons of CO2.

    More charter schools, lower city taxes, and better quality homes in the inner city will attract more people downtown, making what you drive basically irrelevant, because we will all drive smarter. Now there's change you can believe in.
  • We can have our cake and eat it to.

    If we finally make the turn in Alternative Energy we can drive whatever we want with increasingly less downside.

    They have just made several leaps in Hydrogen Fuel production to make it more affordable.

    If we can dramatically improve Hydrogen Fuel Cell Technology or even Hydrogen Internal Combustion... you could then drive a 30 Passenger Bus and have a fraction of the impact you'd have by driving even the smallest car today.

    It's not the Car and Price, it's the fact that we still are forced to put Gasoline in that Car.

    CHANGE THE FUEL SOURCE AND YOU CAN DRIVE WHATEVER YOU WANT. People have proven they want to drive certain types of cars. Why not let them do that, boost domestic New Alternative Energy production, offer new lines of high-tech American Cars, and end the Archaic Gas debate. We aren't too far from it, let's get these cars on the streets.

    It would save the American Auto Industry and it's not a pipe dream either, it's a matter of survival now (the ultimate motivator).
  • JB:
    You are right, we are being dictated to from afar. Look up the term fascist and it applies. We are losing freedom of choice by the day. If I want to pay 30 cents a mile to drive a 15 mpg vehicle at $4.50 a gallon, that is my choice.
    Tan Van:
    It will take a lot more than that to pull people downtown. Get rid of crime, improve parking, and get more jobs downtown--job growth has not been downtown. Let's stop writing piddly traffic tickets and put the police on drug crimes, or no one will want to be downtown. Along the way, be prepared to raze entire neighborhoods that no amount of charter school activity will help. We don't need charter schools, although I am a fan of them, we need IPS to get rid of the worst teachers and not just the youngest and hold all teachers accountable for performance. There is no tenure at primary and secondary education.

    And by the way, when your public transportation bus hits my car, I am much less likely to be dead than you are in your casket for 4 on 4 wheels.

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