America's Gas-guzzlers Facing end of the Road

Despite growing backlash, SUV sales remain high in US.

Published: 10-Jan-2003

From Chris Ayres in Los Angeles

THE gas-guzzling "sport utility vehicle", one of the American consumer icons of the 1990s, may soon be heading for the scrapheap of motoring history.
Although sales of so-called SUV four-wheel-drive cars hit a record high last year, America's big three carmakers fear that the boom may be coming to an end.

Bill Ford, chief executive of Ford, said at this week's Detroit Motor Show that he was worried that SUVs could fall out of favour with younger buyers who will feel that SUVs are no longer cool. Ford plans to discontinue its Excursion model, whose massive size -- it is 7ft high -- and meagre 10mpg fuel consumption led environmentalists to nickname it the Valdez, after the oil tanker that ran aground in Alaska.

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