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Increasing gasoline prices have not effected sales of pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles (SUVs), the most popular types of RV tow vehicles, in the Chicago area and other parts of the country, according to the Chicago Tribune.
As gasoline prices topped $2 per gallon in many areas, the Tribune said the sale of SUVs rose 14% nationwide in January and February, while full-size pickup trucks, most with hefty V-8 engines, increased 13%.
Ford sales analyst George Pipas told the Tribune that consumers tend to choose a vehicle more for what it can do than how much gas it uses. “Their primary focus in buying a vehicle is meeting some perceived or real need,’” Pipas said.
At Stasek Chevrolet in Wheeling, Ill., a Chicago suburb, trucks usually account for 70% of sales. “Gas mileage isn’t even a topic of discussion on the showroom floor,” said owner Bill Stasek. “It’s just not an issue.”
Ford plans to build 700,000 trucks and SUVs in the second quarter, 15,000 more than during the same period in 2003, while GM intends to hike second-quarter production by 4,000 to 841,000.
“The American love affair with utility vehicles shows no signs of ebbing,” said GM market analyst Paul Ballew.
Gasoline retail prices began a steady climb around Dec. 1, when the national average price was in the vicinity of $1.50 a gallon, according to www.fuelgaugereport.com, a service of the national AAA (Triple-A).
On Wednesday (March 31), the national average price for regular unleaded gas was $1.751 a gallon, only two-tenths of a gallon less than the all-time record high (not adjusted for inflation) of $1.753 a gallon set on Tuesday (March 30).
The national average price for diesel fuel on Wednesday was $1.711 a gallon, well below the all-time record of $1.829 aa gallon set on March 14, 2003, Triple-A reported.
The fuelgaugereport.com figures are based upon credit card swipes at more than 60,000 fueling stations around the country.