Detroit has been rescued by the American auto market for sure and 2015 was a record year for sales among the Big 3, but the industry was saved not by electrics, hybrids and gas-sipping compacts, but by the very same gas-guzzling pickups and SUVs the Obama administration is trying to avoid.
At General Motors Co, the focal point of Detroit’s bailout, pickups and SUVs accounted for nearly 70 percent of last year’s sales. In 2016 one of the SUVs GM sells in America - - the Buick Envision - will be, for the first time, imported from China, to the chagrin of the United Auto Workers union, a key Obama constituency.
With oil prices expected to stay low for some time, all the major automakers are looking for a bigger slice of U.S. truck market profits.
Nissan Motor Co. and Honda Motor Co. are using auto show press previews on Monday to promote new versions of their full-size pickups, the Titan and the Ridgeline, respectively.
The big splash from bailout beneficiary Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is not a small car, but a sleeker, updated minivan, which comes in a plug-in hybrid version and a powerful gasoline model more people are likely to buy. There are also new luxury vehicles to be unveiled: a revamped Lincoln Continental is expected from Ford Motor Co and Hyundai Motor Co's new flagship luxury sedan, the G90.
Obama has made boosting fuel efficiency a cornerstone of his energy and climate policy. Mandates from California and other states are prodding automakers to continue rolling out zero emission electric vehicles, such as GM's Chevrolet Bolt, even if sales remain slow.
In his 2011 State of the Union Address, Obama renewed a call he made as a candidate in 2008 to get 1 million plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) on the road by 2015. But sales have been far slower than expected - only about 490,000 vehicles, including 115,000 in 2015, down 6 percent from 2014. Automakers have been forced to cut EV prices and sales forecasts.
The next president will decide the fate of Obama's goal of boosting average fuel efficiency to 54.5 miles per gallon (23.2 km per liter) by 2025. A decision on whether the final 2021-2025 regulations are feasible is due by April 2018, under a new president.
The average fuel economy of new vehicles sold in the United States has improved over the past few years, standing at 24.9 mpg in December. It is down 0.9 mpg from the peak reached in August 2014, but still up 4.8 mpg since October 2007.
As long as oil stays low, Americans are going to go back to big SUVs and trucks. It's who we are, and don't be surprised if they're doing it to stick it to Obama, either. Hell, there's a whole culture of car and truck lovers "rolling coal" as a screw you to environmentalists nowadays, and gas under $2 a gallon is only going to keep that going as along as possible. Hell, what happens when a Republican president reverses those EPA standards?
We're kinda terrible about that.