Serves the Commercial Small Fleet Market of 10 – 50 Vehicles

Anti-SUV Drive Puts Automakers on Alert

January 9, 2003

Beyond the glittering array of new sport utility vehicles and SUV-inspired "crossover" vehicles on the floor of Cobo Center in Detroitthis week, there is a movement brewing against SUVs and the people who own them, according to the Detroit News.The crowd decrying the gas-guzzling ways of America's vehicle of choice has expanded beyond traditional environmental groups and liberal lawmakers on Capitol Hill, the News said.According to the News, the Earth Liberation Front claims responsibility for setting fire to a Pennsylvania new-car dealership because it sold SUVs. More than 30 SUVs have been vandalized in the Richmond, Va., area during the past few months, many with an acid-like chemical.More than 3 million SUVs were sold in 2002, up from 1.1 million in 1992.While some executives dismiss the most extremeactions as irrelevant, they are watching carefully for any signs consumer sentiment is shifting away from a crucial market segment thatgenerates huge profits, the News said.In the latest volley, conservative commentatorArianna Huffington launched the "Detroit Project" Jan. 8 with a TV ad campaign that equates SUV ownership with supporting terrorism, the News reported.In response to media inquiries, manufacturers and dealers are pointing out that fuel-efficient hybrid vehicles are available, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association (NADA). NADA said General Motors Corp. has announced plans to manufacture one million hybrids this year. Ford Motor Co. is producing a hybrid Escape for consumers who want an SUV but also want to be sensitive to environmental issues, according to NADA.
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