Written by Felix Minderbinder
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Topics: suicide, Sales

Tuesday, 4 October 2005

image for SUV Owners Form Suicide Club as Gas Prices Rise
SUVs find new uses as gas skyrockets

Detroit (AP)--Sales of American SUVs plunged in September as spiking gas prices pushed many consumers to buy more fuel-efficient foreign vehicles. Yet most SUV owners are now stuck with their unwanted and unpaid-for vehicles, and have formed a national "SUV Suicide Club," a self-help group in which members threaten to kill themselves unless car dealers accept their SUVs as trade-ins for vehicles that don't guzzle so much gas.

"I wouldn't touch a used SUV with a ten-foot pole," said William Wodrum who owns a car dealership in Scranton. "I have these SUV-owning idiots coming in here pushing their SUVs into my lot and begging me to take them as trade-ins. They can't afford gas any longer. Then they threaten to kill themselves if I don't accept their vehicles."

"Take my SUV or else!" Bob Bullhorn shrieked at Woodrum after a group of SUV Suicide Club members pushed the vehicle onto the lot. "We'll douse ourselves in gasoline and burn to death if you don't!"

Wodrum shook his head sadly, and told this reporter that SUV owners can't even afford gas for self-immolation these days, even after appealing for public donations.

"Eventually they push their SUV away and try to pawn it in order to try to make the next payment on their rising adjustable rate mortgages, or to pay off the loan on the SUV itself," he said. "But SUV's aren't even worth 5 cents on the dollar these days. The poor bastards."

Since Hurricanes Katrina and Rita destroyed most refineries and oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico and drove gasoline pump prices way above $3 a gallon, sales of thirsty SUVs in September slid 97% from a year ago.

General Motors reported a sales drop of 89% compared with the same month a year ago. Ford Motor's sales declined 98% while DaimlerChrysler SUV sales fell 97%. Big Japanese automakers reported strong US sales in September, with most posting increases of 90 to 97%, as consumers snapped up fuel efficient Japanese passenger cars.

At Honda, sales of the Civic, one of the industry's most popular and fuel efficient small cars, grew 87% from a year ago, while sales of its gasoline-electric hybrid version grew 77%. Sales of the hybrid Toyota Prius more than doubled to 389,193 for the month.

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