Analysts expect gasoline prices to remain in record territory, at least for several weeks, despite falling crude oil prices. (The Wall Street Journal) General Motors this week closed four pickup truck and sport utility vehicle factories, and announced plans for a new small car that would get 45 miles per gallon. (AP in the Calgary Sun)
What the commentators said
“So now we know,” said Charles Krauthammer in The Washington Post. Americans kept "driving like crazy" when pump prices were in the $3-a-gallon range, but $4 gas turns them into “rational creatures” who abandon their SUVs and embrace gas-sipping hybrids. “The wholesale flight from gas-guzzlers is stunning in its swiftness, but utterly predictable.”
American automakers certainly think $4 is “the SUV tipping point,” said The Seattle Times in an editorial. “They say gasoline prices that raced past $4 a gallon have ended the era of the highway behemoth, with consumer preference irrevocably changed.” But Detroit has been wrong before—it resisted tighter fuel standards for years as Americans bought foreign cars with better mileage—so its “record as a prognosticator is woefully suspect.”
“Perhaps the biggest sign that GM is finally seeing the light,” said the Brattleboro, Vt., Reformer in an editorial, “is that it is considering selling off its Hummer line.” This “tricked-out blingmobile” marked the culmination of the transformation of pickups and small trucks from workhorses for farmers and tradesmen to wasteful status symbols for city drivers. If the Hummer bites the dust, “few tears will be shed for the likely end of what Friends of the Earth once called ‘the most anti-environmental vehicle in the history of the world.’”
Many Americans will always love their gas-guzzlers, said Terry Jackson in The Miami Herald, “no matter what it costs to fill the tank.” They might not floor it like they used to, but the nation’s love affair with the highway behemoths “has created a culture in which drivers revel in the bulk of their SUVs and pickups, their capacity to swallow anything that Home Depot sells and the feeling of power and control the high-riding vehicles give their drivers.”
And, thanks to the panic inspired by soaring pump prices, said U.S. News & World Report’s Best Cars & Trucks blog, this is the perfect time to go shopping for an SUV. Manufacturers are offering huge discounts. If you really need a gas-guzzler, “prices on the behemoths have never been better."