Survey: ‘Social Statement’ Cars Aren’t Selling

by Henry Payne

Bad timing for Barack Obama’s socially conscious auto agenda.

“Buying a car is no longer about making a statement but about making a monthly payment,” observes the Detroit News’s Scott Burgess today.

Budget-minded consumers these days are taking a more metered and practical approach to buying cars and trucks.

A recent Kelley Blue Book survey indicates a fundamental shift in the way Americans are buying vehicles. Price and durability are the top concerns, and a majority are shopping for cars with a price tag below $25,000.

“I think the time of a vehicle being just a social statement is gone,” says James Bell, a Kelley Blue Book analyst.

The market shift comes at a time when Washington is pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into the development of expensive “social statement” cars like the $40K Chevy Volt and the $60K Fisker Karma electric car.

“This is not for average Americans,” Leslie Paige, a spokeswoman for anti-tax group Citizens Against Government Waste told the Wall Street Journal. “This is for people to put something in their driveway that is a conversation piece. It’s status symbol thing.”

Automakers this fall are flooding the market to meet Obama’s mandates with upscale electrics at a time when electric-hybrid sales are already tanking in part due to low gas prices and the “new frugality.”

Planet Gore

The hot blog.