Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Attention Shoppers: put down the Escalade keys.

Some intersesting points have been made in the comments of the previous post. Mojo rightly revs up about the whining of American drivers about gas prices while they continue to drive unsafe, gas guzzling behemoths. The irony is apparently lost on them, sliding off their sloped foreheads like a greasy stain on a lunch counter. I am encouraged though by the shift in the market from SUV's as the prime selection for conspicuous consumers to other products, best reflected in the rising market share of Toyota, Honda and Nissan, who diversified their product line and worked hard to brand themselves as the main stop for anyone looking for a nice car with decent mileage.

I'm more charitable than the other editors here about SUV's. In part because my wife drives a four cylinder version of a 4 runner that gets reasonable mileage compared to the standard V8 SUV. I agitate often to replace it, even going so far last weekend to try to calculate how much we would save by getting a new car with better mileage now that gas is getting nasty expensive. Our SUV however, isn't bad enough on the mileage, and my wife lives 15 minute from her job, so total gas consumption is relatively low. That aside, the truth is the damn thing is useful and convenient, and when we moved twice in the last 3 years, gone on numerous camping excursions including one across the country, or just went on regular road trips I was thankful to have it( and felt guilty as well). So I have some sympathy for people who get attached to them, particularly if they have a brood of offspring they cart around with all the requisite gear that goes with that. S9 rightly points out no one really needs these things, there are saner, more economical cars that cost the same or less that could do the job. And lets face it, the freakin things have an awful safety record overall, and automakers should be forced to make them safer.

Mojo really hits on the right note when he talks about how gas prices are subsidized in various ways. In the same vein, SUV ownership is as well. The rest of the insurance risk pool subsidizes them by having to pay for the rash of deaths and accidents they have caused, needlessly in many cases since they could be made safer if forced to comply with the same standards regular cars are. Not to mention that since gas prices don't reflec the true total costs assoicated with the process of getting that shit to market, SUV owners don't have to pay the real penatly for driving the worst offenders in mileage and emissions. Gas prices are starting to make that point to the share of the market that is capable of reason. The rest will cling to their V12 ASSMUNCHER until the steering wheel is pried from their cold dead fingers.

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