The world should take notice of the US’s growing appetite for SUVs.
Automaker Ford’s decision to phase out the manufacture of almost all sedans from its stable in the US is a sign of the country’s deepening love affair with SUVs, which began a few decades ago. Americans are increasingly becoming partial to SUVs, given their ability to carry load and people. The years of the petrol-price-drop had Americans hooked on to these fuel-guzzling cars. Whether or not the recent crude price rally will lead to falling SUV sales is difficult to say. There are many compact and sub-compact models that have a similar fuel efficiency as sedans, but any real substitution seems unlikely since space is one of the main reasons behind the switch.
Why should the Americans’ car-buying behaviour worry the rest of the world? Because of US president Donald Trump. Having walked out of the Paris agreement, the Trump regime has concentrated on taking the US back to its dependence on coal. Against such a backdrop, if fuel-guzzlers were to become the vehicle of choice for Americans, the rest of the world will have to increase efforts to offset the US’s emissions. There are nearly two cars for each American household, though nearly 9% of its households are still without cars. Even though the average number of years for which Americans hold on to their cars, both new and used, has been increasing, they still end up buying nine cars over their lifetime—the argument often forwarded is that given America’s geographic spread, cars often travel greater distances in their lifetime, and hence wear out faster than cars in, say, pollution-conscious European nations. However, many other nations like Russia and China have similar or greater spreads, and lower average number of cars owned over a person’s lifetime. While the growing sharing economy will likely offset some of the US’s car-appetite in the coming years, the rest of the world should push the US hard on reducing its emissions.