Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

Has America Fallen Out Of Love With Gas-Gulping Pickup Trucks?

Faster than an F-150 full of drywall and Bud Lite cans.The biggest car market in America is California, and the top-selling car in California is now the Toyota Prius hybrid. Does this mean America has fallen out of love with the pickup truck that has dominated U.S. automobile sales since Reagan first made "living like Southerners who need a pickup truck" the keystone of his domestic policy? Maybe!

The F-series Ford pickup has been the best-selling American "car" since Reagan was president. The sales of Ford pickups even increased by 10% in 2012, because the recovery of the housing market allowed housing industry workers to replace their old pickups. We have a very weird (and completely unsustainable) economy in this country.

But in the nation's most populous state that also has the highest gasoline prices and (in Southern California) lousy air quality and terrible commute times, the Toyota Prius hybrid was the top-selling automobile in 2012. It's the first time a hybrid has topped the new-car sales list in America. Nationwide, sales of large cars are down by an incredible 87%, while nationwide sales of the Prius are up by 74%. Sales of pure-electric cars are still small, but rising fast enough that in seven years, the U.S. will have the world's largest market for EV sales.

Photo by Zero Emission Resource Organisation.

10 Comments / Post A Comment

petejayhawk (#1,249)

Hybrids: not actually better for the environment than non-hybrids! But boy do they make people feel better about themselves, so there's that.

@petejayhawk I have a Prius and I feel like shit about myself all the time. Thanks for letting me know I failed something else.

jfruh (#713)

@petejayhawk I mean, but surely they are to the extent that they use less gas than a non-hybrid car of similar size/power/etc. that the buyer would otherwise theoretically be drawn to? But certainly fetishisizing the hybrid-ness of the engine itself is silly (as, for instance, when HOV lanes in NoVa were opened up to any hybrid vehicle, which means that a hybrid SUV can use it but a Smartcar can't, even though the latter uses a lot less gas).

petejayhawk (#1,249)

@jfruh They don't even use THAT much less gas in many instances. EPA mileage numbers are ridiculous and completely off-base. In real world driving, a Honda Civic HF gets nearly the same mileage as a Civic Hybrid. When you factor in the environmentally-destructive batteries and electric motors, a hybrid is even less attractive. Then when you do the math – increased cost of hybrid vs. fuel saved, it starts getting into ridiculous territory. Hybrid cars are a marketing tool, not a way to save the planet.

If you want to make an environmental impact, drive less.

laurel (#4,035)

@petejayhawk They're quieter and they smell less bad.

brianvan (#149)

@petejayhawk Are you some kind of "EPA mileage truther"?

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@petejayhawk – Mine consistently gets about 47 mpg, 49-50 if I drive carefully. The onboard computer overestimates by maybe 1-2 mpg, but the EPA estimate is about 50 mpg, so that's not too far off, and approximately 50% better than the best non-hybrid car on the list.

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

@Ham Snadwich – Also approximately 275% better than my previous car, a 1994 4wd Toyota pickup.

Brunhilde (#1,225)

North of Sacramento Californians are still very much dedicated to the "living like Southerners who need a pickup truck" ideology (exept maybe in Arcata).

Ham Snadwich (#11,842)

Also, I would buy another pickup in a second if I could find one that got 30 mpg or better.

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