Go Big or Go Home- Not Anymore

“Go big or go home.”  This saying was something I learned at a early age as ‘the American way.’ The American way has had many trends, and many of these trends move over to the auto industry.  The winds are changing at our doors again.

1984 Dodge Caravan

1984 Dodge Caravan

In 1984 Dodge introduced the world to the Dodge Caravan.  These were an instant success as they were a better option than driving around in a station wagon.  The concept of a minivan appealed to families hauling the kids with lots of gear.  With decent fuel economy and the ability to haul lots of people and luggage, it is no wonder why the minivan was a hit.  Once the initial fad wore off, the minivan started getting the soccer mom name plate.

1991 Ford Explorer

Once the minivan was no longer the ‘cool’ vehicle to be pulling up to soccer practice in, something had to took its place.  This was the birth of the SUV fad.  Having a vehicle that sat up higher made people feel like they were the king of the road.  The higher seating position and the four wheel drive capability gave people the sense of safety and security.  With poor fuel economy and un-necessary running costs for most people, the SUV was truly a symbol of what Americans thought they needed.

1999 Cadillac Escalade

1999 Cadillac Escalade

In 1999, Ford’s premium brand, Lincoln, introduced the Navigator. The Navigator was essentially a rebadged Ford Expedition.  Sales were successful enough that General Motors felt it was necessary to rush something into production that would compete with the Cadillac badge.  General Motors immediately rebadged the GMC Yukon Denali to become what was known as the first generation Escalade.  This is when SUV’s became the status symbol in America.  It was no longer cool to just have a SUV. You needed a large, premium badged SUV.

Now we skip forward to last summer.  Gas prices hit an all time high in the U.S. and people stopped their love affair with SUV’s as quickly as it started.  People started switching the SUV status symbol to hybrids.  It is always amazing to see how short term American’s memories are.  Now that gas prices have gone down significantly from last summers, we are getting back into buying SUV’s.  That said, something else has happened since last year and it is larger then just the auto industry.  The economy has been hit hard and so have people’s pocket books.  This has hurt auto sales across the board. Everything from the Toyota Prius to the Chevrolet Suburban, no one was immune to the down turn.  Sales are starting to pick up again, and people are going back slowly.  The main factor seems to be that people still like SUV’s but they want them more fuel efficient.  The new 2010 Chevrolet Equinox is rated at 32mpg on the highway.  This is very good milage for a crossover SUV since the first SUV’s were averaging 17mpg on the highway.

green-vehicle-main-imageIt seems the tides have turned once again, and people are now in love with SUV’s and good fuel mileage.  The old adage “go big or go home” seems to have turned “go green or go home”.

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5 Responses to “Go Big or Go Home- Not Anymore”

  1. Chad #

    It should be said that as a major economic player, the auto industry should be starting trends, not trying to play catchup with easily predictable societal movements…

    09/10/2009 at 10:55 am Reply
  2. I still have my SUV. Mainly because there is no market for them anymore. I think the current breed of hybrids are overrated. The next generation stuff should be more interesting and a lot “greener”.

    09/10/2009 at 3:43 pm Reply
  3. Branden #

    I agree Nate. Hybrid cars/SUV’s up to this point are overall, overrated. I give the manufacturers props for the advancement in technology etc. But in terms of practicality and cost, it will take some time to offset the advantages of a hybrid. I am excited to see what car makers will come up with in 15-20 years.

    09/12/2009 at 7:58 am Reply
  4. Dave #

    This article is poorly written…

    Either you are biased against US automakers or you didnt do your research regarding this subject…You credit/blame the SUV craze to US automakers but you failed to mention one key factor..The grand slam success of the Big 3 authored pickup/SUV/Minivan craze cause a tidal wave of competition from every auto maker on the planet…(you failed to mention that though…)

    To name a few Audi Q7, BMW X5, Volvo XC90, Mercededs GL/M Class, Toyota Sequoia/Tundra/4Runner/Tacoma/Sienna Nissan Titan/Armada, Pathfinder, Frontier, Honda Pilot/MDX/Ridgeline etc etc…Why didnt you mention this?

    Why is this fact overlooked? Japanese and European automakers flooded the US market with copy cat entries! And are to blame as much as the Big 3 for “forcing” these vehicles on the great unwashed American masses…Aaah, imitation is the most sincere form of flattery…

    The Volt, Leaf et al will be available soon…Will Americans buy a politically correct car dictated largely by anti-car zealots? Or will they buy a vehicle that meets their needs?

    06/16/2010 at 11:10 am Reply
    • Dave,
      I think if you read the rest of my blog you will clearly see I am in no way “biased against US automakers.” In fact I comment numerous times how well both Ford and GM are doing recently. Further, this post focused on the past and how the SUV craze started. In reality this post focused on the late 80’s and most of the 90’s. BMW, Audi, and many other luxury marques did not have SUV’s back then. The post was about who started this craze and in reality in the US it was definitely the American car companies who helped the SUV take off.

      The upcoming Nissan Leaf has seen strong initial interest and that will be very interesting to watch as it comes to market later this year.

      06/16/2010 at 12:53 pm Reply

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