QOTD: What Gas Price Kills SUVs?
April 25th, 2008 3:01 PM Share
Commentator menno posted this on the Oil Headed for $225 A Barrel? thread. It's a Hell of a good question, so I ripped it and started this discussion… "By the way, what’s the general consensus of our little group of avid TTACers, as to when the tipping point for the average Joe and Jane driver of America will be, causing them to say ENOUGH! and give up their [full size] SUV’s to go buy something a little more sensible?
$4 a gallon?
$5 a gallon?
$6 a gallon?
$7 a gallon?
or $8 a gallon?"
Published April 25th, 2008 2:55 PM
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4 of 89 comments
The biggest problem with any vehicle is the loose nut behind the wheel. Big SUV's of today have mostly replaced oversized sedans of yesteryear which had worse handling and brakes to start with. Also, were less efficient even with the same number of passengers. If you were to decide to legislate against certain types of vehicles on the idea that some are less safe than others then it would be sports cars and motorcycles who get the axe first. If what you really want is for SUV's to be outlawed then keep it up, but realize they will be gone long after the sports cars and bikes, so be careful what you ask for. PS After they come get my favorite toys, I may be disinclined to protect yours. Hope you commies all like boredom.
At $3.50/gallon, I'm at least reconsidering my next vehicle choice. I really wanted a Jeep Wrangler (1. I camp alot, 2. I live right along the east coast down south, so top-down driving is a near 365 thing), but looking at the overall mileage makes me pause. I already own a Liberty, which gets marginally better mileage than my old Dakota...so, for top down daily driving I'm considering a used Miata and will use the Jeep Liberty for the weekends that I need to camp. I just can't leave all of my camp gear in the Libery, as my wife drives it every day, and since she has the shorter commute, she gets the Liberty! So, in my limited statistical sample of one household, the price being $3.50/gallon is already making an impact on purchasing decisions.
The answer seems to be two parts" 1. If you ask people, they will state that they will think of replacing their vehicle if prices get around 20% higher than current prices. It does not matter what the current prices are. This stated intention remains a fixed proportion of the current price until people actually cannot afford to make ends meet (see #2). 2. If people actually cannot afford it then they will likely just drive less. How can they at this point afford a few vehicle? That is my take on it after having seen this sort of question asked by many researchers in many ways.
The folks comparing the relative driving dynamics of SUVs vs. midsize sedans proclaiming that physics favors the latter display ignorance of physics. Maybe I was too search-lazy but lacking SUV-sedan data I found another pair with similar weight delta: fortwo vs. Astra. Road&Track tested the fortwo at a few happy meals short of 2000 lbs and the Astra similarly short of 50% greater mass. The fortwo stopped 60-0 in a reported 130 ft which I contend is passable but wholly unremarkable. With all the extra heft of the Astra it took....120 ft. The 80-0 stopping distance was more exaggerated (yes, the fortwo got past 80mph) at 230 for the smart and 213 for the Astra. You could almost fit a Tahoe in that difference in stopping distance. For every additional pound of increased vehicle mass there is an equal amount of additional available tractive effort. Vehicle design, chassis construction, tire selection, and suspension tuning dictate how effectively the available tractive effort is utilized for whatever purpose. While I dislike the H2/H3/Navigator/Escalade frenzy as much as any sane individual I find equally distasteful the proliferation of 30+ year old vehicles with 30" wheels and 2 ft of ground clearance. It is equally stupid and non-functional but I would defend the right of another to own such an abomination so that I can do whatever it is they think is horrendous. Personally I drive a full-size pickup V8, 5spd, 4x2 and average 18,000 miles per year at around 18 mpg (actual average, 90% highway). The truck is paid for and I would have to see sustained gas prices above $9/gal to make me go out and purchase a 35mpg vehicle (assuming $400/mo payment) so that I can park my truck. Since I don't anticipate $9/gal gas anytime soon, I can't financially justify buying a car solely to save on gas. I will, however, be factoring fuel efficiency into future purchase decisions when it is time to buy, much as I did when purchasing my truck since I went with the small V8/5spd and 4x2 instead of the profligate big V8/auto/4x4s on every truck lot.