“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.
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.
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.
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.
It 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”.