With Low Gas Prices, Guzzlers Come Rushing Back

Americans have quickly returned to gas guzzling, faster than expected!

Forget all those polls that show a majority of Americans understand that climate change is real and want action. Maybe they do, but not in their driveway.

Gas prices have been tumbling for just a few months and already we’re seeing a big difference in the kind of vehicles they are buying. Sales were brisk last month for SUVs and light trucks, but not for efficient smaller cars.

Of course, dealers are promoting the vehicles, which doesn’t help, and they rarely provide the same levels of incentives for efficient vehicles. 

In November, sales of GMC trucks rose 22.7%, Jeep Cherokee 67%, Honda CR-V 38%, Toyota’s 4Runner SUV 53.4%and Highlander crossover SUV 16.7%, reports National Journal. We might even see the return of the ultimate gas guzzler – The Hummer – bought off used car lots.

Toyota 4Runner:

SUV

And smaller cars? Down 2.7% for Toyota’s cars, down 11% for Ford Fusion, down 7% for Nissan Altima, and down 16.7% for Chevy Malibu. Only the Nissan Leaf defied the odds with sales up 34% in November, says National Journal. 

"Environmental concerns are significant," notes Washington Post. "Automobiles account for about 50% of an average household’s emissions, but that can swing widely based on the vehicle. A big SUV will produce about three times the annual greenhouse gas tonnage emitted by a Prius."

The short-sightedness of these purchases will become clear when gas prices rise again. And this is happening just as electric vehicles are making more headway in the market, with sales of plug-ins and all-electric cars up 30% so far this year, triple that of 2012.

Some utilities are even starting to facilitate the switch to electric, by offering rebates for vehicle purchases and home charging equipment.  Georgia Power, for example, gives a $250 rebate for homeowner EV chargers (up to $500 for businesses) under a pilot program, and has different electricity rates for EV drivers. 23 utilities off specific rates for EV users, says Edison Electric Institute.

Read our article, Gas Prices Dropping, What It Means for Electric Cars.

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