Americans smell the high price of gasoline with a surge in small car sales.

Americans are dumping SUVs faster than you can say ‘jack rabbit’. For the first time ever more 4 cylinder cars are being bought than 6 cylinder vehicles. The industry itself sees this as a significant turning point.

As Dave Strom of South Boston, Virginia says,

“I had to smile the other day when I filled my tank for $18 and the guy next to me had a Ford Explorer and the pump was clicking past $80,” said Strom, a 66-year-old retired manager of a Chevrolet dealership.

Highlights from the IHT article;

* In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.

* “The era of the truck-based large SUVs is over,” said Michael Jackson, chief executive of AutoNation, the largest auto retailer in the United States.

* In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April. “It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here,” said George Pipas, chief sales analyst for Ford Motor.

* Sales of Toyota’s subcompact Yaris increased 46 percent, and Honda’s tiny Fit had a record month. Ford’s compact Focus model jumped 32 percent in April from a year earlier. All those models are rated at more than 30 miles per gallon for highway driving.

* There are some indications that the trend toward smaller vehicles will reduce fuel use. In California, motorists bought 4 percent less gasoline in January than they did the year before, a drop of more than 58 million gallons, according to the Oil Price Information Service in Wall, New Jersey. “That is an incredible year-over-year drop,” said Tom Kloza, the organization’s chief oil analyst. “Some of it clearly has to do with changes in the vehicle fleet.”

* “This shift appears to be a permanent situation,” said Jesse Toprak, chief industry analyst for, an auto information Web site. “These new products have become more fashionable, just like small, fuel-efficient cars are in Europe.” The low prices on small cars are also luring consumers who are tightening their belts in an economic downturn.

* “If you look at where the automakers are putting their resources into now, just about everything is going into small cars,” said Tom Libby, senior market analyst for J.D. Power.

The Americans have finally realised that burning heaps of gasoline just ain’t smart or cool. Amen!


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9 Responses to Americans smell the high price of gasoline with a surge in small car sales.

  1. the Grit says:


    Actually, it has nothing to do with being smart, and even less with being cool. The shift in car choices is just a panic reaction to a short term shift in gasoline prices, which are generally irrelevant to the average person, and the massive amount of biased press coverage on the subject. The same thing happened back in the 70s when the first energy crisis hit, and people stooped so low as to buy Pintos. That passed, as will the current panic. Really, once people calm down and start thinking for themselves again, they’ll notice that an extra $50 per week fuel bill pales in comparison to what they’re paying for their vehicle and, for many, pales in comparison to what they’re shelling out to Star Bucks during the same time period. Then, they’ll start thinking about how much time they spend in their car every day, and the cramped confines of a miniature fuel efficient vehicle will pale in comparison to the sprawling luxury of a monster SUV with 18 cup holders, digital surround sound, drop down TV screens and DVD players in the back to keep the children happy, a heating/air conditioning system that can keep each of 8 passengers at their own individually selected temperature, a 28 way adjustable driver’s seat that requires a training course to operate, and enough power under the hood to crush all those little cars that are in your way of getting to work should the pressures of the daily commute finally cause you to snap, will swing the buying patterns back to normal. As supporting evidence, I offer our local foreign car TV ads, which are all for large, powerful, luxury vehicles, not tiny cars.

    the Grit

  2. matt says:

    Oh dear Grit, I can’t believe you’re saying that Americans aren’t intelligent human beings. Tsk, tsk.

  3. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    Pet Rocks. I rest my case.

    Of course, it’s also worth mentioning that, considering how poorly educated our general population is, what does it say about the rest of you who are letting a relatively small, as compared to global population, bunch of self absorbed hedonistic idiots dominate the world?

    Really, it’s quite interesting, at least to me, that, while seventy something percent of our population believe in astrology and UFOs, we are, in general, still significantly more productive on an individual basis than the population of any other country! Along this line of thought, it’s also interesting to note that, while, in general, our workers expect less vacation time than y’all, a significant percentage of our workers don’t bother to take all the time off that they are due! To me, this is a sign of insanity, but the scale of it is far too large to treat.

    In relation to that, despite our general decline in levels of average education, we still continue to be the source of the majority of scientific research. While our literacy levels are, at best, holding level, we still are the major producers of music, movies, and novels (with the possible exception of the specialty market in India.) Beyond that, and as our news media constantly tells us, despite the fact that we are a nation of fat slobs, we still field the best military force on the planet.

    It’s enough to make me think that the Founding Fathers should have named us, the United States of Contradictions.

    the Grit

  4. matt says:

    Oh believe me when I say that the rest of us definitely see the US as a nation of contradictions. Many people both loath and are fascinated by what comes out of America.

    When I first heard that Americans only have 2 weeks holiday I was shocked. When I started hearing that quite a number don’t even take all of that entitlement I was more than a little confused. What I did realise was that it is no real surprise therefore that the US sits at the top of the economic pile.

    The rest of us like to have a life!

  5. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    And with that last line I agree completely! My guess as to what screwed us up, as a group, was WWII and the ensuing conflict with the USSR. We took all that very personally, and the sense of urgency that this gave us, really kicked us into high gear. Really, the threat of nuclear annihilation can be, for some, a great motivator.

    Consider, if you would, that after WWI, we found it quite easy to forget about the rest of the world, except as potential vacation destinations, and focused on improving our internal moral fabric by prohibiting alcoholic beverages. We also dabbled, at roughly the same time, with the theory that we could all get rich by the simple act of buying random stocks at ever higher prices. This, as luck would have it, provided just the National disaster we needed to prod us into getting our collective act together.

    Then, of course, y’all had to go on vacation instead of nipping Hitler in the bud, at least that’s how we see it, and we got sucked back into a bunch of global crap that we, according to news reports of the time, were quite anxious to resist. Thus, once y’all forced us to mobilize, our men went off to war and killed several million Germans, Italians, and Japanese, mostly in the hope that everyone would finally get the idea that it was best not to piss us off. Unfortunately, while our men were off fighting your war, it was necessary to force our women into industrial labor.

    We’ve never recovered. Our near perfect culture, where all men could make a good living turning our vast natural resources into stuff our modest population would like to have, while the women stayed home and focused their creative energy on making the family healthy and happy, was shattered, and 50 plus years later we’re still trying to sort things out.

    Fortunately for you, this internal conflict, along with our experiences in the Great War, have introduced a bit of paranoia into our culture, making us take on the burden of defending ourselves, and the rest of you, against any perceived threat. Thus, while you were taking half of each year off, we were working our collective butt off to keep the USSR from rolling numerous tank divisions across Europe. Stupid, I know. We really should have worried about our own problems and let y’all be sucked into the Communist Empire. I blame it on some form of National mental breakdown.

    I was, however, quite hopeful that, once we crushed the USSR, we would finally feel free to relax and only go to work every other day. We did, I would point out, take that opportunity to disband something like a third of our military forces, which was quite refreshing, except that our Government, in their great wisdom, didn’t bother to pass the savings on to we-the-people, but managed to find other ways to spend those tax dollars on vote buying.

    Still, this situation was a good start to allowing us to regress into our natural introverted low pressure state of existence, except that y’all had to be on vacation so much that you couldn’t even take care of that minor conflict in the Balkans or prevent the invasion of Kuwait. Both of which, I must point out, were in your neighborhood, not ours!

    Thus, while I am very happy that y’all get massive amounts of vacation time, I think it only appropriate that, when you get that first glass of libation during your time off, you poor a bit on the floor in honor of the United States of America, the general labors of which have made your soft life possible. You should also poor another drop in the hope that we can continue to stand up to the strain, which is looking less and less likely. God help you if a Democrat wins our next Presidential election, as that will mean that you will actually have to develop enough military might to defend yourselves, and that requirement will cut deeply into your vacation time.

    We, should such occur, will get a nice break, until y’all drag us into WWIII, assuming, of course, that we can muster the will to help, which, once our Government turns into a socialist paradise like yours, isn’t a given. Doesn’t life just suck!?

    the Grit

  6. matt says:

    The US has been happily interfering in regional conflicts since WWII; Korea, Vietnam, Central America (covert), Africa (covert), Afghanistan (part 1 covert), Iraq and Afghanistan again, to name a few. No one in Europe asked the US to do so.

    The US got a taste for blood in WWII and a lust for power, backed up by a newly built up arms industry that needed wars to expand and test new weapons systems in a theatre of conflict. Every now and then a country decides it’s bigger than its boots & embarks on a global campaign of chest beating. The Persians, the Ottomans, the UK, Portugese, Spanish, Italians, Russians ….. and the Americans. Nuffink new.

    The world would be quite happy for the US to pull its ships back to harbour and disband it’s pill popping, speed metal music loving, hick-town trigger happy army boys. Please do! Oh, and enjoy those extra holidays. Might, as you rightly say, bring some sanity back into American culture/way of life.

    But I doubt it. Trouble is Grit, immigrants are normally hyperactive bunnies determined to improve their lot, not resting until they have done so and passed their new found wealth onto the next generation. America is full of immigrants continuously trying to prove themselves! And they all call somewhere else home.

    You see Grit, America is like one of those fluffy pink Duracell bunnies; it never stops working. Hell, the US doesn’t even need the batteries. It just runs on hot air! Trouble is, underneath that nice little bunny persona is a wolf with a lust for power at all costs. The US would happily nuke the planet if they thought it would produce a profit.

  7. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    What you say would make a lot of sense, if our previous actions hadn’t already proved it wrong. Really, if we had our collective eye on world domination through military force, you’d be saluting the American flag daily. Take a brief moment to actually think about the state of the world at the end of WWII. We had the battle hardened military to do the job of conquering the world, the industrial might to support them, and the atomic bomb waiting in the wings to convince any stubborn holdouts to go along with the new order of things. Remember, at the time, the only real military force that could have resisted us was the Russians, and they were dependent on US aid to keep their armies in the field. Also keep in mind that, at the time, there were strong voices in the ranks of our politicians that were calling for just such action. Instead, we buried our dead, and went home, for the most part. Unfortunately, since you Europeans couldn’t even agree on how to handle the German problem without setting up the field for the next Hitler to arise, we had to waste billions of dollars protecting your countries both from yourselves and the Soviets. Oh, and at the same time we poured even more money into rebuilding your countries, for which effort, best I can recall, we, once, received a nice thank you and the Statue of Liberty. Note that the Statue didn’t even come with a maintenance contract.

    As to times after WWII, I seem to recall that Europe was quite happy, even eager, to band together with the US to form NATO, and keep the Soviet wolf away from your doors. Of course, in typical European fashion, you weren’t all that excited about paying your fair share of the expense. For that matter, even after we defeated the USSR, with almost no help from y’all, you still refuse to carry your own weight where military matters are concerned. Last time I checked, the average military budget for EU countries is slightly less than one percent of GDP, while the US spends a bit over 7%. Considering that our GDP is still larger than all that of all your countries combined, this means that we are carrying our own weight, and most of yours.

    Of course, you may have a valid point that, without our protection, no one would bother you. On the other hand, Russia has started the rattling of sabers again, you had to beg Clinton to help you out with the Bosnia mess (were we are still stuck with having troops stationed) and, last I checked, there are no EU plans for dealing with China, the India-Pakistan conflict, Islamic terrorism, or even the garbage problems in Italy.

    As to the profit insult, if that was true we would have insisted y’all pay up on your war debt.

    We do however, in some cosmic bit of humor, agree on one point. Were I in charge of the US, seeing as how our help is not appreciated, we’d never spend another penny on the defense of Europe, or any other foreign place for that matter. I’d also cut off all of our foreign aid because, well everyone hates us so why bother. Of course, since our global contributions dwarf those of the EU, if you really mean all the high ideals you profess to hold, you’re going to have to give up some of those vacation days to pick up the slack. Oh, and then there’s that little problem y’all have with integrating immigrants into your society, as demonstrated by the almost constant riots in France. Guess you’ll need to put a few extra days labor a year to provide funds to solve that little problem.

    Beyond that, there’s the trouble in the Middle East. While, if we didn’t have all these external problems, that we didn’t ask for, to worry about, we would have the resources to ignore, although I doubt the same can be said for the EU. Really, we could, if we decided to, get all our oil from internal supply, Canada, and Mexico. If all the Middle Eastern countries fell to radical Muslims who decided to use your oil dependence as political leverage to make you convert in mass, I can’t see as how that would be any skin off our collective nose. The same, I would think, would apply to your only path to salvation given our withdrawal from global politics, which would consist of selling your souls to Russia, and we all know what kind task masters the Russians are.

    In summary, until you Europeans decide to carry your own weight in the world, I find it extremely funny when you have bad things to say about us. Yes, I know it’s wrong, but who, honestly, can keep from laughing at the global village idiot?

    the Grit

  8. matt says:

    Anyway back to big American men driving small cars; as some American car expert said, small cars are cool and Americans have finally realised what Europeans have known for some time. 🙂

  9. the Grit says:

    Hi matt,

    You’re right on that one. Small cars started becoming cool over here back in the late 80s when parking lot designers started slowly making the spaces smaller. I’ve also noticed that lanes on new roads get narrower with each one, and the ones on old roads pinch in a bit more every time they’re repaved. It won’t be many more years before the only thing that will fit on our roads is a moped. Fortunately, I drive a truck and so don’t absolutely require a paved surface for motoring, but lots of front lawns and flower beds are going to suffer because of this sneaky way of getting people to drive smaller vehicles 🙂

    the Grit

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