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Can't Sell Your SUV? Blame It On The Cost of Gas

Monday, 19 May 2008 | 11:13 AM ET
AP

A friend of mine said it best this weekend. He owns a Lincoln SUV that he wants to sell. Understandably, he's having trouble getting anything close to what he thinks he should.

The frustration on his face was evident as he told me, "I guess I'll just take a bath on it."

He's not alone. Across the country, dealers and private owners are finding it tougher to sell truck based SUVs. As one dealer on the East Coast told me, "Selling an SUV now is about as tough as it was to sell a compact car in the late '90's when sport ute's were red hot."

You get the picture. The big boys ain't so big anymore.

Blame it on the price of gas. As it creeps above $4.00, and yes in many parts of the country it's over $4.00 a gallon, more and more people are getting out of their SUVs and trucks. Since many pick-up owners use their trucks for work, there is an element of grinning and bearing it with higher gas prices. Which is why I don't hear dealers complaining as much about being "stuck" with trucks that won't sell.

Maybe this is finally the transition we've been waiting for with gas. Everyone has been so focused on whether hybrids are selling, that we have overlooked something more tangible, but less sexy, The slow and and steady decline of the SUV.

Will it rebound? I never say never. But if gas remains high, I suspect more people will be like my friend. Stuck with an SUV they would rather not own, but unable to find a buyer who will give them the price they want.

Questions? Comments? BehindTheWheel@cnbc.com

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  • Phil LeBeau is a CNBC auto and airline industry reporter based in the Chicago bureau and editor of the Behind the Wheel section on CNBC.com.

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