J. D. Power and Associate’s Power Information Network just released more dramatic evidence that the age of the gas guzzling SUV is drawing to a close. The market share of midsize SUVs—once one of the most popular vehicle segments—has fallen from 9.1% to 5.2% (a decline of 43 percent) in ten years. The Ford Explorer was the 3rd most popular car in the late nineties. Now it ranks 46th. This did not happen overnight. The question is: who was minding the store?
The automotive industry is in a period of unprecedented technology development but up to now, domestic automakers have used technology advances to nearly double power and increase weight by twenty-five percent instead of increasing fuel economy. Had they applied these investments in technology to fuel economy, today’s cars and trucks would get 35 miles per gallon instead of the 25 they actually get. So now Congress is seriously considering mandating that they turn their attention to achieving 35 mpg because, as one military expert put it “our continued oil dependence represents a clear and present danger – militarily, economically, diplomatically and environmentally.”
Of course, it will cost money to get there, and while we may dispute the exact dollar amount and reasons why it is unaffordable, we all know the Big Three just doesn’t have that kind of cash. So instead of trying to cobble together weak consensus legislation that promises but doesn’t guarantee a fraction of the oil savings we need, why not create a powerful solution to America’s oil dependency problem and provide Detroit some financial help to achieve it?