Death Rates for Small Car Occupants Down: Large SUVs, Trucks Dead

By The Car Family

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The death rate for drivers for small cars continues to fall and are now at the same rate as drivers of large pick-up trucks giving small car scared cats a glimpse of the reality that big vehicles are not safer for the vast majority of families. Of course, the full-size sedans are still the safest if they are over the 3000-pound threshold that seems to be the touchstone for the highest safety ratings.

This is good news for intelligent buyers as large SUVs, such as the horrible Hummer H2, are literally being abandoned on the sides of the marketplace as people fight to buy safer and more fuel frugal small cars. In fact, the average dealer lot time before sale of a Prius is four days. It takes months for someone dumb enough to want to buy a large SUV to show up and qualify. Rebates over $5000 are not uncommon and as the end of the model year looms closer rebates on the Hummer and other dreadnaughts might hit $10,000. Residual values could set new records for loss rivaling those of the ill-fated Yugo as the truck chassis based SUVs find few buyers and less dealers interested in taking these slow movers as trade-ins.

In an effort toe save the company Ford and General Motors are both trying to make their rigs more attractive and even Toyota is offering huge incentives on its large pick-ups. Unfortunately, Chrysler doesn’t have a single quality high mileage compact in its fleet and is gambling on freshly designed Dodge Ram to woe the public in the fall. What we find the most upsetting is the Chrysler’s excellent minivans are not finding owners despite good gas mileage and tremendous passenger and cargo carrying capabilities. They have the most family friendly interiors of any minivan, too.

What is most fascinating is that the owners of large pick-ups usually owe more than the deflating value of their truck. The good news here is the workers still use pick-ups and their purchase can be justified. Large SUVs are another matter. There is no practical use for a Hummer H2, Lincoln Navigator, or Ford Excursion that can’t be solved with a more environmentally friendly vehicle. The excuse that I use it to tow a trailer or boat is losing its appeal when you are paying fifty cents a mile for gas. And, they aren’t safer.

According to Charles Oglesby, CEO of Asbury Automotive, the trucks are worth so little that people are just keeping them and buying a small car. Sadly, it looks like they are going to own the gas gulper for a long time because unless someone starts to cut down on speculation fuel is going to suck the energy out of the economy. By the way, gas should cost less than $70 a barrel. The rest of it is to pay for speculator’s profits not that Big Oil isn’t enjoying record profits at the expensive of the nation.

The surge of interest in hybrids is overwhelming with stock barely getting into dealer lots before it’s sold. The lines are only going to get longer so it is good thing that those big Hummers and other monsters of the highway give a lot of shade for those waiting for the fuel friendly vehicles to arrive.

Interestingly, diesel powered vehicles are still not on many people’s radar and this could be good news for early shoppers for Volkswagen and Mercedes new products. Diesel cars don’t get quite the mileage as hybrids, but they are better on the highway and less expensive to maintain. Of course, finding a diesel fuel station in some parts of the country isn’t easy, but they are just as good as gas powered vehicles, and much better in terms of longevity and miles per gallon.

The number of children who have been run over by large SUVs and the crowded freeways has created technology options that are increasing in demand. The blind spot detection system is very good, we love the one on the Cadillac, and the back up sonar and cameras, Nissan has the best, are gaining buyers. The outlawing of hand held cell phones is making wireless systems a hot item. Don’t leave the showroom without one because in time this is going to be in the same category as a radio when it comes to resale.

Suzuki, makers of an under-valued new SX4 sedan and small SUV, is going to make a GPS available next year that is portable. It is also much less expensive and easier to update than those that are permanent.