SUVs Making Comeback with Consumers

Feb 02, 2011

Gray Nissan SUVSport-utility vehicles and crossovers in November hit their highest share of new vehicle sales in eight years compared with sales of cars and pickups, according a USA TODAY analysis of Edmunds data.

The analysis for November sales since 2002 shows an uptick for SUVs and crossovers (SUV-style vehicles on a car chassis) to 32.4% of new vehicle sales last month, up from 29% a year ago and 25.9% in 2008.

With gas prices rising — now more than $3 a gallon for regular nationally — the comeback is a sign that family haulers are beginning to shake their image as gas guzzlers.

"SUVs are getting slowly but surely more fuel-efficient," says Karl Brauer, senior analyst for Edmunds.com. "It's just becoming easier and easier to justify buying them."

Regular gas averaged $3.06 a gallon Wednesday in AAA's daily survey, up 20 cents from a month ago and 45 cents from a year ago. But it remains far from the $3.50-a-gallon level that Alec Gutierrez, Kelley Blue Book's lead valuation analyst, says it would take to start dramatically crimping SUV demand.

In addition, many new SUVs no longer have heavy truck frames, but are car-based, with unibodies that integrate that frame and body. That cuts weight and raises gas mileage.

Do newer, more efficient SUVs and crossovers have any place in your fleet operations?  Let us know in the comments.

[via USA Today]

Photo courtesy of KhE and re-used under the Creative Commons license.