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Some industry analysts are attributing a drop-off in sales of large sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks to rising U.S. gas prices, according to a report from Reuters.
The full-sized SUV segment lost 1.2 percentage points of U.S. market share over the last two months and large pickups were down about 2 percentage points, according to Edmunds.com, which tracks the industry.
Fuel-efficient compact cars, on the other hand, gained 2.2 percentage points of market share in the same period.
Although the RV industry is traditionally more sensitive to the availability of fuel than the cost, the spike in towable sales over the past decade is directly linked to the popularity of large tow vehicles.
“The concern, of course, is that the slowdown in these categories may represent the beginnings of a structural change, perhaps sparked by consumers’ concerns about higher oil or gasoline prices,” Lache said.
The softening in sales corresponds with rising pump prices as the average price American drivers pay for a gallon of regular gasoline is currently just over $2, according to the AAA motor club.
The price is expected to shoot to a record high of $2.15 a gallon this spring, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, and some areas are already reporting nearing or reaching that level.
However, Joseph Barker, manager of North American sales analysis at CSM Worldwide, said it was too early to say if the fuel price spike was responsible for the lackluster SUV and truck sales
“I wouldn’t read too much into the first two month of this year,” he said.