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Study Says Consumers Believe SUV Criticism is Hype

February 11, 2003

A New Vehicle-Buyer Attitude Study on SUVs shows more than half of its respondents feel the negative press around SUVs is hype and more than 70 percent felt that groups criticizing SUVs ignored the vehicle's positive aspects. The study was conducted by Kelley Blue Book (KBB), the resource for used and new car information. Journalist Arianna Huffington and activist group Earth Liberation Front, have said that SUV owners are making our country oil dependent and creating unsafe highways, and in extreme cases are claiming consumers purchasing SUVs support terrorism. Other statements imply that SUV drivers are vain, self-absorbed and have little interest in their community. Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Jeffrey W. Runge, urged consumers in a Jan. 15 speech to 'educate themselves' before purchasing these rollover prone vehicles. The Kelley Blue Book study shows six out of 10 shoppers still feel positively toward SUVs and of those considering an SUV the number rises to eight out of 10. Currently, large utility vehicles account for most of the manufacturer's annual earnings. The negative comments have auto manufacturers worried that consumer demand for the SUVs would decline. While sales of SUVs declined one-tenth of a percent in January, analysts say the drop is minor in comparison to the overall decline in vehicle sales last month.When it comes to the attitudes of current car shoppers, survey results show that manufacturers have little to worry about at this time. Based on the study results, rollover statements made by Runge may be the only issue reaching consumers. The Kelley Blue Book study shows shoppers rank rollovers as their No.1 concern in purchasing an SUV. Four out of 10 surveyed say that concerns of rollovers could even keep them from buying an SUV, yet more than half rate the vehicles high for safety. "We have not seen an effect on SUV values or sales due to recent news. Any effect thus far can be attributed to uncertainty in the economy," said Charlie Vogelheim, executive editor, Kelley Blue Book. "We do expect to see a drop among larger SUVs but attribute the decline to market saturation as well as the growth and popularity of crossover vehicles, not necessarily criticism or hype." The KBB New Vehicle-Buyer Attitude Study on SUVs was administered on the company's Web site www.kbb.com. Survey respondents include those considering buying an SUV as well as those that are not. The study was completed over a four-day period at the end of January 2003 to determine the attitudes and views of SUVs amidst heavy criticism of the vehicle segment by influencers. "The targeted nature of our visitor base allows Kelley Blue Book to uncover factors important to in-market car buyers in the middle of their purchase decision process," said Rick Wainschel, director of Marketing Research at Kelley Blue BookFor more information on future KBB New Vehicle-Buyer Attitude Studies or the complete results of this study, please contact Robyn Eckard at 949-770-7704 x8349. About Kelley Blue BookSince 1926, car buyers and sellers have relied upon Kelley Blue Book for timely and accurate information to make well-informed automotive decisions. The company also offers objective vehicle pricing via products and services for both the auto industry and consumers, including the Blue Book Official Guide, software and the Internet.
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