Paul Ballew gets the Jackass-of-the-Day Award.

Report finds softer SUV sales; Detroit laughs

By Sarah A. Webster

Knight Ridder

Detroit — SUVs, which have been berated in recent years as rollover-prone gas hogs, are losing appeal, a respected automotive research firm said on Thursday.

Demand for sport-utility vehicles, such as the Ford Expedition, Jeep Grand Cherokee and Chevrolet Suburban, is softening, the Power Information Network LLC, said in a report that quickly became controversial in Detroit. The research firm is an affiliate of J.D. Power and Associates of Westlake Village, Calif., which is known for its consumer quality surveys and sells its research within the auto industry…

But automakers and SUV supporters scoffed at Power Information’s contention that demand for SUVs is waning.

Even if SUV sales are slowing, they noted, sales of the vehicles are still up 7 percent for the year — nearly three times the increase in the automotive market, which is up 2.4 percent for the year.

In fact, sales of sport-utility vehicles have been growing for more than a decade, growing from about 900,000 a year in sales in the early 1990s to about 4.5 million in sales last year.

“I’m just laughing,” said Paul Ballew, executive director of global market and industry analysis at General Motors Corp., of the findings. “The fastest-growing category is the sport utility category.”

Like I said before, apathy.

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