Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Sad Funeral Ballad Of The SUV

It might just be the visible sense of desperation or maybe just an odd death knell for something that this time last year still looked so strong and vibrant. All the fun is over. There are no more balloons to drop or fanfares to play. The fat lady hasn't started singing as of yet but you can definately hear her starting to warm up in the background. We could be witnessing the demise of the large truck in the automotive world and it is fascinating to watch the death spiral that it looks to be in.

One of the first harbingers of doom came out from what read like a random news story that was buried in the back pages of the financial section. The blurb was a swift mention of how many people that owned large trucks and other massively sized vehicles are finding it exceedingly difficult to get a good rate of return when they want to trade the vehicle in. Many were finding that the auto dealerships would be offering an amount that was less than what they still owed on the truck. Anyone that witnessed the late 90s and early 00s can attest to how it seems insane that a style of vehicle that was so well mixed into the world as they were would have their popularity come to a complete stop.

The big trucks just didn't have a chance one those gas prices started to inch their way up to the $4 average that we have now. Those trucks and SUVs get such amazingly bad gas mileage that you could wind up paying double for the vehicle if you added the total price of gas fill-ups along with the price that you originally paid for the thing. I have a small car and I'm paying about $40 to fill up my gas tank when I hit the local service station so I can just imagine how frightening it must be when you have a Hummer to fill up. Maybe someone can use this whole event as the basis for a horror movie. Either that or one of those movies of the week where the lead character has to realize that their lives need to change and the only way they can do that is to dump that bad boyfriend of an SUV and go for a more practical relationship.

Today was my first exposure to the next level of descent for the SUVs of the world. It came from a commercial that I saw twice on Food Network and it took me until the second viewing to really grasp what was going on. The new advertising plan from Ford Motors is to promote just how important their trucks have been to all of our lives and I know just how much all of our existences would be different without those massive trucks being driven fast down the highway with no load at all in the back. But I digress...

The commercial seems to view as a love letter to the extra large trucks and SUVs but they sneak in another new promotional aspect at the very end. Ford is now offering to sell you one of their trucks to you at the employment discount level of price instead of the marked up version. This might not mean that they're giving them away but it looks to be coming very close to that. I'm not totally positive but I really think that they can't get any cheaper than the current level unless they want to take an even larger loss than what they're already experiencing. If the companies are announcing the closure of all manner of plants that built the thing and no one can trade them in, it makes the buyer start to worry that their investment won't have much left once all is said and done.

Everyone was wondering when we would get sick of the big huge vehicle trend that was going for the last 20 years but I think that it is oddly prophetic to realize that it took just a rise in the price of fuel to make all of our heads spin. If you can't use simple logic to explain the purchase then what do you have left to use when you try to talk yourself into buying that SUV? All of this might change whenever the price of gas dips back down again but I'd like to think that we've all had the scare put into all of us that we should maybe look into practicality over large bling. Anyway, you can always work the bling into your new small car. It's just be a little bit smaller than you originally wanted.


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