Americans are buying a lot of cars these days, which is great news for the auto industry. According to a recent report from the Associated Press, much of that growth is being fueled by the desire for muscle cars and SUVs.
It’s the kind of thing that’s surprising to a lot of people, and maybe even baffling to non-Americans. After all, the current trend in government regulation in the United States and elsewhere is requiring automakers to create vehicles that are far more fuel efficient than ever before. Conventional wisdom says that such pressures would cause SUV and muscle car sales to plummet, like how the American muscle car market was choked out in the 1970s. Instead, just the opposite thing is happening.
There are other factors at play. The U.S. jobs market is on the up and up. People have more disposable income, and so they’re ditching the little cramped or underpowered cars that have been getting them by during the recession, opting for something that is more utilitarian or fun to drive. It’s like a college graduate who gets his first job and stops eating Ramen for dinner every night, choosing instead to have a steak every now and then.
Technology is another big factor. It used to be that American muscle went hand-in-hand with gas guzzling. Instead of just throwing a ton of fuel into an engine’s cylinders, automakers have been working on everything from direct injection to turbocharging as a way to squeeze out a lot of power while making muscle cars surprisingly efficient. As a fringe benefit, some models have become even more powerful, giving owners the best of both worlds.
Plenty of car shoppers are looking for a small SUV, which is why that market segment has been exploding lately. That trend doesn’t look to be slowing down. Owners enjoy the maneuverability of such models, while still being able to fit some fairly large items in them.