Dearborn, Michigan — Save the planet, SUV the planet.
The Green Church and its media acolytes have targeted sport utility vehicles as a sin against the planet. In 1998, New York Times reporter Keith Bradsher demonized SUVs in his book High and Mighty as unsafe and a mortal threat to the planet. In 2003, Arianna Huffington of the Huffington Post spearheaded the “What Would Jesus Drive?” campaign at the Detroit Auto Show, demanding that automakers downsize to small cars. Even Ford Chairman Bill Ford, a committed tree-hugger, derisively referred to his own company’s giant Ford Excursion SUV as the “Ford Valdez.”
But these elites are no match for consumer demand. On Tuesday, Ford announced that it will begin exporting the American-designed Ford Edge SUV to Europe to meet the insatiable global demand for SUVs.
In the last six years, SUVs have been the only auto growth segment in Europe, with sales increasing by 72 percent — even as elites have derided American gas guzzlers and proposed stringent new CO2 rules. Globally, SUV sales have doubled. One in five vehicle sales in China is now a ute. Sure, these vehicles aren’t hulking Excursions, but they are significantly larger than the sedans of the past, requiring more steel to build and more gas to drive.
“People all over the world are in love with the two-box silhouette,” said Ford marketing guru Jim Farley in making the Edge announcement here.
Ford — the biggest seller of SUVs in the U.S. despite its chairman’s rhetoric — is determined to capitalize on the trend as utes are far more profitable than sedans. Jeep — a division of Fiat-Chrysler — is also determined to expand its iconic brand, announcing a goal of doubling its global sales by 2018.
Since the Great Recession of 2008, SUV sales have rebounded to 51 percent of U.S. market share, fueling Detroit makers’ return to profitability. Like the domestic explosion of oil and gas production in the face of an anti-carbon White House, SUV popularity defies government regulation.
ABC News parroted a recent EPA claim that U.S. automakers are on track to meet federal average mpg standards of 54.5 mpg by 2025 — but the number is only reachable because the rules have become a Swiss cheese of lobbyist exemptions. For example, by 2016, all vehicles are supposed to average 35.5 mpg under EPA edict. In truth, only some 25 of the 265 vehicles sold in the U.S. market will meet that criteria.
The SUV is dead. Long live the SUV.