We Americans like our pickup trucks, sport utility vehicles and minivans. The most popular vehicle sold in this country this year is not a car, but the Ford F-series pickup truck. In July, 507,801 new cars were sold in the United States - while 551,800 light-duty trucks left the showrooms.
But President Barack Obama says U.S. automakers should be focusing more on economy cars.
"There is a place for SUVs and trucks, but as gas prices keep going up, you have got to understand the market," Obama lectured U.S. automakers in Minnesota a few days ago.
Indeed. But clearly, domestic vehicle manufacturers understand the market better than the president. As gasoline prices have gone up, the automakers have offered small trucks that get better gas mileage. And as the numbers continue to show year after year, a substantial part of the market belongs to pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans - quite simply because the small cars Obama champions don't suit the needs of millions of buyers.
Every American car maker offers small - sometimes very small -cars. They, too, have a market.
But what Obama does not seem to understand is that vehicle sales are not a matter of selling just what manufacturers - or the government - want Americans to buy. Foreign automakers, who got into the U.S. market with small cars, now include large numbers of pickup trucks, SUVs and minivans in what they ship (and sometimes manufacture) here.
Fortunately, Obama doesn't make the decisions for automakers. But, through actions such as higher fuel economy requirements, he hopes government can, in effect, dictate what Americans buy and drive. Clearly, he's seen the sales figures, too - and wants to do all he can to restrict motorists' freedom of choice.