Low gas prices mean Americans want bigger vehicles

It was inevitable: The drop in gasoline prices means Americans are buying more gas-guzzling vehicles, according to an analysis by Bloomberg.

U.S. vehicle sales rose 4.3 percent in November, on track for 17.2 million sold for the year. That’s the quickest pace for a November since 2003.

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“Psychologically, when people see prices drop below $3, it sends a very, very positive wave across everyone’s mindset,” Fred Diaz, Nissan Motor Co.’s North American sales chief, said in an interview. “Everyone feels like, ‘OK, this is for real. Time to giddy up and go get what I want.’ ”

What they want are big, expensive models like the Cadillac Escalade, which surged 91 percent last month, and the Lincoln Navigator, up 88 percent. They have less interest in small, economy cars, such as the Ford Fiesta, off 26 percent last month, and hybrids like the Toyota Prius, down 14 percent.

John Krafcik, the former president and CEO of Hyundai Motor America who now heads the online car-shopping website TrueCar, pontificated further:

“It’s almost like the manifest destiny for American families, when there’s no significant opposing force, to move into a larger, more comfortable vehicle. … SUVs and crossovers are the Conestoga wagons of today.”

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