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SUV Owners' Group Challenges Kelley Blue Book Buyer Interest Claims

April 1, 2003

The SUV Owners of America (SUVOA) organization has issued a statement criticizing Kelley Blue Book’s claim, reported by just-auto.com on Mar. 31, that buyer interest in SUVs has declined 5 percent over the last six weeks.The statement by Jason Vines, the one time head of Ford’s US press communications, and now SUVOA president, claims, "The folks at Kelley Blue Book made a mountain out of a mole hill and in the process provided a classic 'glass-is-half-empty' editorial in order to manufacture news."“According to their survey, consumer interest in buying SUVs has declined over the past six weeks by 5 percent. What's more, four out of 10 SUV considerers indicated that recent gas prices would keep them from buying the vehicle.What Kelley didn't report was that during that same period -- a period where silly attacks on SUVs by special interest groups have continued, America has gone to war and gas prices have increased to some of their highest levels -- overall vehicle sales decreased by 5 percent as well. The question is: Is there really news in these survey numbers?"“The fact is that while overall vehicle sales are down this year by 5 percent, sales of all SUVs are out-performing the market, down just 2 percent. And, the heart of the SUV market -- the midsize SUVs -- also are out-performing the overall vehicle market, down just 4 percent despite the uncertain times. Sure, some SUVs are up while others are down, but overall it's still a robust market that represents one out of every four new vehicle sales.”Vines’ statement added that, while Kelley chose to characterize the 'four out of 10' figure as negative to reach their editorial conclusion that 'the heyday of large SUVs is about over,' they failed to note that the majority of the consumer respondents said that gasoline prices would not keep them from buying an SUV.Commenting on Kelley’s claim to be seeing greater interest in crossover vehicles and small SUVs, Vines said: “Crossover vehicles are just coming into the mix in large numbers so increased interest is of course expected. And, the small SUVs are really crossover vehicles as, for the most part, they are car-based vehicles with the much-appreciated sport utility vehicle attributes.“That's why crossovers now represent 25-30 percent of the SUV market and they are providing more choices for consumers. That's a good thing but not necessarily the fat lady singing the SUV blues.”
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