Gettin' out while the gettin's good

A thought occurred to me recently while I was on my way home from work. There was a news report on the radio -- one of several I've heard recently -- about gas prices going up and how SUV sales are down. I've also been reading Kevin Drum's series about Peak Oil* so this had been on my mind already. Ironically (or not), I was surrounded on all sides but one by SUVs while I when this news report came on, and not the ones that are more like station wagons (Outback, CRV, etc.), either. These were the big behemoths, a Suburban (or as some online wit recently dubbed it, the Subdivision), a Navigator, and two Excursions.

Anyway, with the inevitable rise of gas prices as we reach/have reached Peak Oil, and the consequent consumer turn toward more fuel-efficient vehicles, it occurred to me that at some point, SUVs are going to be impossible to get rid of. Suppose for example that the Suburban driver I noted above decides it just costs too much to run that vehicle and decides to buy a Prius instead. He sells the Suburban, and because they're still pretty popular, it sells pretty fast and he gets what he wants out of it. A few years go by, gas prices have climbed above $4/gal. (and I'm being optimistic), and our second owner has decided it's just too expensive, he's selling it. Except by that point, most everyone has already decided the same thing. He gets hardly anything for it, or is unable to unload it entirely and left holding the bag, so to speak. It's like musical chairs, except in this version, lots and lots of people are still standing when the music stops.

That, I think, will be an unexpected and unpleasant consequence of the SUV craze. It may not happen on the timeline I've laid out -- the Suburban might change hands a couple of times more -- but it will happen, I think. If I had one, I would definitely get rid of my SUV in the next couple of years.

*The rest of the Peak Oil series is here, here, and here. UPDATE: and here.

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