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Truck And SUV Sales Show Drivers Want More Bang For Gas Buck

2008 Ford Expedition
2008 Ford Expedition

At long last the gas price surge has hit a point where truck and SUV sales are hurting. How bad is it? Look at the awful April numbers for truck sales:

GM plunged 32%
Ford fell $25%
Toyota down 15%

You get the picture. People are turning away for heavier, less fuel efficient SUVs and pick-ups. I can't blame them. With gas approaching or passing $4 a gallon, people are wondering if it's worth $80, $90, or $100 to fill up the tank of a big rig.

This is troubling for the automakers. For years, especially in Detroit, automakers have made their profits (when they made a profit) on truck's and sport ute's that carry huge margins. Now, just as the big three are trying to climb out of the red, their most profitable models are falling out favor.

Yes, they are limiting the losses by pushing more crossover's. But with the CUV market becoming more crowded, even those margins are coming under pressure. What about new cars? The margins and length of time they stay "hot" are limited.

The bottom line: auto sales show buyers are saying, "Enough! I may want space, I may want more utility and versatility, but I don't want to pay more for gas."

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com


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