Those invested or thinking of investing in auto makers might want to think twice. According to The Wall Street Journal (subscription required), consumers say the functional trucks, which make up a big part of auto makers' profits, just aren't cool anymore. Why? Several reasons.
Despite record sales in 2002 (one in four vehicles sold was an SUV), their fuel inefficiency is nevertheless proving unsatisfactory to many consumers.
Last year, several major religious organizations asked followers to rethink SUVs because they waste natural resources. A Christian organization recently began running "What Would Jesus Drive?" ads on TV.
Columnist Arianna Huffington has audaciously suggested those supporting SUVs are indirectly supporting terrorism by boosting our dependence on foreign oil. She's behind a series of soon-to-air TV ads illustrating the connection.
- Websites such as The Ultimate Poseur Sport Utility Page mock the vehicles and offer arguments and statistics against them. Even somewhat mainstream media properties have joined the protest. Slate features this ad for a "Godzilla" SUV, offering zip codes as size options and promoting the "Exxon Valdez Commemorative Edition."
SUVs aren't just "uncool," though. They're also big polluters and less safe than many alternatives. Remember when Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) recently assisted victims at the scene of an overturned SUV? According to this New York Timesarticle (free registration required), SUVs roll over three times as often as cars due to their higher center of gravity. And The Mercury News says SUVs pose "nearly twice the risk to drivers of other cars as do average midsize and large cars."
The trucks are associated with a host of political issues, too, thanks to aggressive lobbying by the auto industry. Huffington addresses this in a recent column, in which she slams Presidents Bush and Clinton and discusses fuel-efficient hybrids. (Toyota and Honda have been making hybrids since 1997, and the Big Three are catching up.) "How ironic that if American car buyers want to do something truly patriotic, they have to buy Japanese to do it," she writes.
Learn more about SUV issues from this Washington Monthlyarticle and the book, High and Mighty: SUVs: The World's Most Dangerous Vehicles and How They Got That Way, by Keith Bradsher. (For those seeking an SUV defense, check out this article.)
If you'd like to weigh in with your opinion on SUVs, pro or con, pop into our Motley Fool Take discussion board (hassle-free, free trial available).