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SUVs Make a Comeback at New York Auto Show


INTRO: Thousands will stream into the Javitz Center this week for the New York International Auto Show, which starts today. It’s the oldest and largest show of its kind in the country. And as Adrian Ma explains, the big takeaway from the show is that the SUV is making a comeback.

MA: Even before the doors opened at 10, the line outside the Javitz Center was hundreds long. Kirk McDonald managed to snag a spot near the front of the line.

MCDONALD I am a huge Auto Show Fan, I’ve been coming to the Auto Show since it was at the Coliseum, since I was a little kid about 8 years old.

MA So how many years has that been …

MCDONALD Oh I am 54 now so, it’s been a long time.

MA: Inside, among the rows and row of gleaming cars, there seemed to be two types of people: Buyers and Dreamers. Michael Barnett is definitely a buyer.

BARNETT I own four cars myself. So I’m probably not your normal profile of buyer.

MA: Michael Barnett is an insurance consultant in town from Indianapolis who’s in town for business, and he’s eyeing a $72,000 SUV called the Levante.

ALICEA I own a Mercedes, an Audi, a Lexus. I’m probably going to buy that damn thing.

MA: Then there are the dreamers. Over in the Cadillac section of the show floor, Jose Alicea is staring glassy eyed at a Cadillac Escalade.

ALICEA Quite honestly I saw this two years ago, I have a picture of it on my own phone. I just fell in love with him. I just love him. Period. I just love him.

MA: How much does he love it?

ALICEA On a scale of one to ten, this gets a ninety-nine. That’s how much I love this Caddy.

MA: Alicea says he plans on buying it someday, but his girlfriend Christine Cruz says, that probably won’t happened anytime soon.

CRUZ A lot of this stuff, you know, we probably won’t be able to afford. But it’s kind of nice just coming here and seeing what it is, what’s out there. (laughs)

MA: Still, the thing the Barnett and Alicea have in common this that they are both looking at SUVs. After several years of declining sales, SUVs are back in a big way. Michelle Krebbs is an industry analyst for, and she says …

KREBBS Sport Utility Vehicles are hot not only in the US, but in China, in Western Europe.

MA: She says, low interest rates for car loans and cheap gas are propelling demand. But so is a worldwide shift in taste towards bigger cars.

KREBBS We do not see an end to this trend. We see sport utilities increase in sales of all sorts from small to large to cheap to very expensive. And that is not just a national trend that’s a global trend.

MA: And Krebbs says SUVs aren’t the gas guzzlers they used to be.

KREBBS Auto industry has made huge progress in engineering smaller engines they get more power but have better fuel economy.

MA: Not that that’s a big concern for Barnett, who was looking at the Maserati SUV.

MA Are you concerned about gas?


MA Why not?

BARNETT Cause I’m not (laughs) …

MA: So for Buyers like Barnett, looks like the only question of when he gets the car will be how quickly he can get out his wallet. For Dreamers like Alicea, who had his heart set on the Cadillac, he might have to find another way.

BARNETT This car right here, if it were in Candy Apple Red, I guarantee you I’d have to drag it out of the show room. Cause I want it. I love it.

CRUZ He wants to steal some cars already.

BARNETT This is beautiful …

MA: Adrian Ma Columbia Radio News.

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