Planet Gore

The Car of the Future? SUV Sales Back to 50 Percent of Market

Consumers continued to defy Washington’s demand that they buy small cars, as July SUV sales hit 50 percent of market share — their highest percentage in three years.

Ironically, the truck surge benefited GM and Chrysler — the very firms that Washington bailed out last year even as the White House vowed to transform the companies into manufacturers of planet-saving small cars. Instead, the surge in truck sales is bringing in needed profits as the automakers strain to repay taxpayers. Chevy Tahoe sales, for example, were up 65 percent; the Chevy Silverado: 25 percent.  

Conversely, Toyota and Honda saw sales drop from a year ago, when sales figures were distorted by the Cash for Clunkers program that discriminated in favor of foreign-badged, higher-mpg vehicles. “Honda sold just over 48,000 Civics and Accords in July, down from nearly 60,000 Accords and Civics the previous July, as Cash for Clunkers began,” reports Automotive News.

Nissan saw substantial gains of 15 percent — again thanks to trucks. “The Nissan Rogue continues to set new sales records with its best month since launch,” said a spokesman. “In fact, all of Nissan’s crossovers, trucks and SUVs showed substantial gains over last July.”

Ford? President Obama praised its new small cars last month in Michigan, but the company’s July gain of three percent was led by sales of pickup trucks — up 39 percent from the same month last year. Ford sold more than 50,000 gas-guzzling pickups in July alone — five times the number of plug-in Chevy Colts expected to sell in a year.

“Customers are rewarding Ford for providing the performance they want and the fuel economy they need,” spun Ford marketing. Whatever. The company then went on to cheer a 65 percent sales gain in its new SuperDuty heavy truck.

Henry Payne — Henry Payne is the auto critic for the Detroit News.

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