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Automakers Start to Back Away From Hulking, Profitable SUVs: Wall Street Journal

January 28, 2003

Pressures from society, government and the auto industry itself are growing so strong that Detroit is starting to take its first big stepsaway from reliance on the traditional, huge sport utility vehicle, according to the Wall Street Journal.Anti-SUV crusaders now span an unlikely political spectrum. The Sierra Club argues that SUVs contribute to global warming. A religious group protests that Jesus wouldn't drive an SUV. Conservative columnist Arianna Huffington recently launched television ads linking SUVs to terrorism.More threatening for automakers is the chilling of the easygoing regulatory climate that nurtured the 1990s SUV boom, according to the Journal.Auto-industry leaders say they see no signs that SUV sales will collapse. "We're not seeing any evidence" of a shift against big SUVs, said GM Vice Chairman John Devine. But, he adds, "there's always the issue of fashion in this business, and products come in andout of fashion.".Some automakers are trying to mute environmental critics by creating hybrid models of their SUVs that run on a blend of gas and electrical power.
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