Saturday, June 07, 2008

 

Prejudice Against SUV Owners Well Founded says Study

I've always been biased against SUVs, especially Humvees. It's not just that the Humvee was brought out as a civilian vehicle largely at the behest of Arnold Swarzenegger, The Terminator. It's not just that they gobble up a scarece resource at the rate of 9 miles to gallon, nor that they billow out CO2 in commmensurate volumes. Nor is it solely that, during ther nineties, they seemed to epitomise American arrogance and their absence of empathy with anyone else'ssensibilities.

No. It was also because people who owned them seemed to me to be not very nice people; the sort who will cut you up on the motorway or not let you into a stream of traffic. In other words, they seemed like irremediable shits. I have never met an SUV owner I did not dislike.

Now, it seems I was right all along. Journalist Keith Bradsher has written a book, High and Mighty, about the anatomy of the SUV's popularity. Bradsher cites market research by the manufacturers themselves which paints a picture wholly congruent with my own impressions of this highly resistible group of owners:

The average SUV owner, [according to studies cited in Bradsher's book,] is "apt to be self-centred and self-absorbed, with little interest in their neighbours or communities." In addition, they are "insecure and vain. They are frequently nervous about their marriages and uncomfortable about parenthood. They often lack confidence in their driving skills ... they tend to like fine restaurants a lot more than off-road driving, seldom go to church, and have limited interest in doing volunteer work to help others."

Even more damningly he reports:
Hummers, the GM researchers found, "tended to appeal to people who never performed military service, but wished they had."

Consolingly the Humvee fad seems to be at and end in the USA and the SUV one in decline overall. Sales have slumped and manufacturer GM have closed down four SUV plants in the US, Canada and Mexico. Meanwhile, in Europoe the same trends are evident. In France and Spain sales over the last year fell b y 50% an 35% respectively. Clearly the cost of fuel has much to do with this; it would be impossible to even imagine that the sort of self obsessed people who wish to buy such vehicles had suddenly become conscious and concerned about anything at all, let alone the environment.

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