RIP for the SUV

Stick a fork in them, they're done. SUVs once ruled the Earth but like the dinosaurs, they've outlived their time, argues Alex Taylor III.

Published: 20-Dec-2007

NEW YORK (Fortune) -- Never easy, the automobile business has gotten exponentially more difficult in recent months, as manufacturers rewrite their new model plans to cope with the eventual tightening of fuel economy standards.

The latest victim is Volvo. According to a report in a Swedish auto magazine, Volvo is performing euthanasia on its popular sport-utility, the XC90. A revamped XC90 that was due to hit the market in 2010 has been cancelled because Volvo had no hybrid powertrain to put in it. For a brand that aspires to greenness as Volvo does, such an absence could be highly damaging to its environmental image. So after a facelift that will keep it on the market until 2012, the popular and highly-profitable XC90 will go wheels-up.

Although Volvo denied any plans to kill the XC90, it wouldn't be the first SUV headed off to the automotive graveyard. According to intelligence work by Global Insight, the Waltham, Massachusetts research and consulting firm, General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) has decided not to replace the old Chevy TrailBlazer and GMC Envoy when they expire in 2010. And Lexus has designated no successor to the FX 470 when it goes away at the end of the 2009 model year.

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