Thursday, June 7, 2007

Can we live without SUVs?

This article was certainly sponsored by GM, "Why we need big hybrid SUVs". For me, putting a hybrid engine in an SUV just looks like another way to inflate the price of these overpriced monstrosities even more. What amazes me (well, not so much) is how perfectly justified the owners of these vehicles are that they need a 3 row SUV.

Fact is, these large gas guzzling high-tech tanks have spoiled us all. We just can't imagine sitting in a car without plenty of arm and leg room around us with a personal television screen and cup holder and a dog in the back in his own fenced off play area.

Unlike the 'green' crowd, I have no problem with SUVs. You want a big expensive gas sucking tank? Fine. But don't complain when you're paying $35,000 for a vehicle and breaking your budget at the gas station. Getting 14mpg is hurting you at the pump? Boo hoo. You wanted convenience in the form of your own personal bus, you got it.

The problem with the article is that it fails to report how much this hybrid feature in a Yukon will cost. For every dollar up front you spend to reduce your mileage, you eat into your future gas savings. I'd be willing to bet most people would sell that Yukon for another model long before it ever offered them any real savings. The real problem is that people refuse to let go of their 4-wheeled boats.

Someone who switches from a non-hybrid GMC Yukon to a Toyota (Charts) Prius will save about 611 gallons of gas a year. That switch would make a huge difference.

But how many people do you think could actually do that?

I'll tell you who, just about everyone. Let's look at the example they give:

I didn't have to go very far to find a perfect test case: my sister. She lives in Cape Cod, Mass., where it snows heavily in the winter. She has three boys who all play hockey, a dog and a husband; and she usually has a couple of her kids' friends - and their hockey equipment - tagging along wherever they go. Try fitting that life into a Prius.

Guess what, you don't have to buy a Prius (although the Prius does offer pretty good interior room), you can buy a sedan that gets 30mpg, or a station wagon that gets about the same! But no, we're here to justify our luxurious spending so we can whine about the consequences.

Amazingly, people survived in snow before SUVs became popular. Incredibly, they managed to fit a family of 5 into a 5 passenger car. The dog? He usually went on the bigger kids lap - unheard of (although the dog was probably a lot happier than being alone in the cargo area). All that hockey equipment? There's some black metal things that can go on the top of cars, they're called roof racks.

No, your sister doesn't need an SUV. She wants an SUV because its convenient. Dog goes in the back, hockey stuff goes in the back, kids all comfy with plenty of space. Very nice. But please, stop complaining and acting like your own choices aren't your own fault just because you aren't willing to make any compromises.

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