Area Sales of Luxury SUVs in High Gear; Gas Prices Don't Slow Down Affluent Buyers

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 28, 2007 | Go to article overview

Area Sales of Luxury SUVs in High Gear; Gas Prices Don't Slow Down Affluent Buyers


Byline: Bryce Baschuk, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The sport utility market may be down nationally, but some Washington-area auto dealers say their SUV sales are just fine.

"Our [Cadillac] Escalade sales have not stopped, it is our best-selling SUV," said David Marshall, a sales manager at Capital Hummer in Greenbelt.

"The clientele that buys Escalades can afford it, so gas doesn't seem to be an issue," he said.

Local SUV dealers attribute their continued sales to the economic stability of the Washington region.

"This area is very affluent and our business is somewhat immune to people who consider fuel economy as a motivating factor in purchasing an SUV," said Steve Browdy, general sales manager at Moore Cadillac Hummer in Vienna.

Mr. Browdy said that despite high gas prices, his sales of Escalades have been so strong that he has trouble keeping them in stock.

"The people who are buying [full-sized SUVs] don't really care about gas prices," he said.

The 2005 Cadillac Escalade has a fuel economy of 13 miles per gallon in city driving conditions, according to the Department of Energy.

The upbeat perspective of local dealers stands in contrast to the doom and gloom felt by dealers elsewhere around the country.

Nationally, the forecast for midsized SUV sales fell 22 percent in the first three months of 2007 compared with last year, said a report conducted by Global Insight Inc., an automotive research and forecasting firm in Boston.

Full-sized SUV sales are predicted to fall 2.8 percent for the first three months of 2007 compared with the previous year. Premium SUV sales were predicted to increase by 8.6 percent for the same period.

Analysts said steadily rising gas prices have become a major factor for many buyers who are now opting for smaller, more fuel-efficient automobiles.

"High gasoline prices have made SUVs impractical and have driven people out of the marketplace who would have wanted the distinction of owning an SUV," said George Magliano, and automotive analyst from Global Insight. …

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