During the economic recession, large SUVs became something on an eyesore to Americans.
Their sudden lack of popularity hurt companies like General Motors (GM), and made Americans who drove SUVs feel somewhat like pariahs.
But the large SUVs that U.S. citizens have shied away from for so long may be making a comeback. This resurgence in popularity may be due to the one thing that sparked much of the backlash in the first place—gas prices.
In recent months, gas prices have dropped significantly. The cost per gallon hit $3.00 or lower throughout the U.S.
GM recently reported $400 million dollars in third quarter earnings thanks to the renewed popularity of SUVs in America. Ford said its company made nearly $281 million in North America during the same period.
Americans aren’t the only ones falling in love with the spacious SUVs once more. These larger vehicles are also quickly finding popularity around the globe.
Karl Brauer, a senior analyst for car-buying site Kelley Blue Book, compared large SUVs to a genie “out of the bottle”.
“[SUVs have] been discovered by enough people that you’ll never put them back,” said Brauer.
And it isn’t just the smaller SUVs created by companies to survive the economic recession; non-Americans are very much impressed with the larger SUVs.
Brazilians love the spaciousness; Indians love their ability to navigate tough roads and conditions.
The biggest fans of big SUVs? That would be the Chinese, who analysts expect to represent the largest market for the vehicles by 2018.
In a surprise to everyone, the ordinarily environmentally conscious French is hot on their heels when it comes to purchasing large SUVs.
With so many nations taking a second look at SUVs, one wonders whether or not this renewed interest in a once despised product is permanent.
Though Americans believe that the drop in gas prices are to thank for SUVs popularity, we should remember that this fuel is typically more expensive abroad than we are used to. And so fuel prices wouldn’t be much of a factor in their popularity abroad.
Perhaps large SUVs should thank the fact that for all the gas-guzzling they’re prone to, they’re also very useful in tough conditions.
The good news is that should gas prices ever spike in the US again, American SUV makers already have markets abroad to rely on.