The stigma attached to SUV’s has never been worse. The nickname “land yacht” isn’t meant to be endearing. And the vehicles’ deplorable impact on the environment isn’t even their biggest problem anymore. $4 gas is making them unaffordable and impractical for mass consumption.
So what has GM, king of the SUV, done? They’ve made 5,500 lbs. hybrids that don’t sell. NYT:
G.M. has sold about 1,100 of its Chevrolet Tahoe and GMC Yukon hybrids since their introduction in January, according to company sales briefings. That pace is well behind its goal of 12,000 sales a year, and a fraction of the more than 100,000 hybrids sold so far in the United States this year.
“To this point, the G.M. hybrids aren’t getting any traction at all,” said Mike Omotoso, a senior manager with the research firm J. D. Power & Associates.
Giving a four-wheel drive Tahoe a gas-electric hybrid engine raises fuel economy for city driving to 20 miles a gallon from 14.
But to get the better mileage, consumers pay a high price: $53,000, at least $4,000 more than a conventional Tahoe.
The bottom line: the vehicles are too expensive, the gas mileage is still too poor, and people don’t want them. But nowadays for GM, that’s par for the course.