Americans are on a diet. No, they’re still spending too much of their money asking the kid behind the McDonald’s counter to “supersize me.” But even if our waistlines keep growing, our taste in sheet metal is leaning towards smaller and smaller models.
Last year, in a significant shift, midsize cars were knocked off the throne as the king-of-the-hill segment in the American automotive market. The new sales king is the compact car, reports George Peterson, of the research firm, AutoPacific Inc.
The news probably shouldn’t be surprising. The run-up to record fuel prices, last year, had everyone rethinking their driving decisions. The pickup and SUV markets imploded, while sales of hybrids hit record levels, mid-2008. But with fuel prices running less than half their peak, truck sales are showing signs of recovery, while mileage-misers are in a slump. Last June, Toyota sold more than 20,000 Priuses. This year, the trendline is running at well under a third of that volume. (more…)