BUMMER: SUVs flood the market as gas prices take their toll | SierraSun.com

BUMMER: SUVs flood the market as gas prices take their toll

Karen McIntyre
Sierra Sun
AP PhotoGas-guzzlers like the Hummer have quickly lost popularity as gas prices hit home.
AP | AP

SUVs are suddenly for sale, car rental companies find people declining vehicle “upgrades” and people are finding ways to stay off the road ” all because of the inflation of a single commodity: gasoline.

“Everywhere you turn around, there’s SUVs for sale,” West Shore resident Misty Brixey said while filling up her gas tank Thursday. “Just down the road there’s a Hummer for sale. Nobody’s going to buy that. You might as well give that away.”

The sluggish economy, the credit crunch and gas prices have caused people to sell their once-popular SUVs for much less than the vehicles are worth.

Brixey said she has been walking and riding to work more often and buying less expensive gas in Reno when she can. But on Thursday, the mother of three filled her Volvo SUV, which gets 18-22 miles per gallon, in Tahoe City for $4.65 a gallon.

“It cost almost $70 to fill it up,” she said.

The family has six vehicles, including a diesel truck that sucks up $175 worth of gas at the pump. But Brixey said she has not considered selling any of her cars because she wouldn’t get enough money for them, and she needs the truck to tow the family’s boat. So for now, there is not much she can do as she watches the price of fuel rise.

“It’s gonna go up higher, I’m sure,” she said.

For the first time in decades, fewer people nationwide are traveling ” and skyrocketing gas prices are to blame.

During the Fourth of July weekend, there was a 1.3 percent decrease in travel throughout the U.S. and about a 1 percent decrease in California, Northern California AAA spokesperson Cynthia Harris said.

Gas prices in California have reached an average of $4.56 per gallon, and AAA reports that motorists are paying $1.43 more than they were this time last year.

As a result, dealerships are noticing that fewer people are buying sport-utility vehicles, more people are interested in fuel-efficient vehicles, and people are driving less altogether.

“Gas prices are the No. 1 reason people are changing their driving habits,” Harris said, quoting recent AAA surveys.

Families are taking fewer road trips, traveling closer to home and not leaving their homes as often, she said.

Tahoe Pines resident Mike Tillery also said he feels like there is not much he can do to save gas money.

Tillery is self-employed and needs his Ford F250 for work. When asked how many miles per gallon the truck gets, he said, “maybe 10, if I’m lucky.”

At that rate, Tillery was dreading his daily commute to South Lake Tahoe. He said he was thinking about buying a Toyota with better gas mileage to drive some of the time.

Some people who do not want to sell their SUVs and buy more efficient vehicles are renting cars with better gas mileage for vacations, said Justin Duguay, assistant manager of Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Truckee.

Drivers are still renting SUVs, but Duguay said he would see a decline in SUV rentals if it wasn’t for the fires burning the north state. Truckee’s Enterprise branch has 25 SUVs rented out to fire personnel. There are only two left in the lot.

Duguay said he has also noticed that fewer people are requesting to upgrade to a larger vehicle.

“It used to be, ‘oh wow, I get this car,’ and now it’s like, ‘oh, that’s gonna cost me a lot of gas.'”