SUVs and the Security State

Some thought higher gas prices would once and for all end the popularity of SUVs, but the demand for SUVs remained high during 2011. Sales totals for Ford’s Explorer and the Chrysler Groups’ Grand Cherokee, to cite only two SUV models, were higher than in 2010. How might one explain the continuing popularity of these gas-guzzlers which are so prone to rollovers and braking failures?

Studies suggest Americans’ continuing fears about international, domestic, and personal security are part of the answer. Market researchers have in the past found SUV and van purchasers tended to be demographically similar (relatively affluent married couples in their forties with children), but the researchers also discovered that on average SUV purchasers were edgier, less social people with strong fears of crime. It also appears SUV purchasers had less sexual confidence than van purchasers! While SUVs are often advertised as off-road vehicles, few SUV owners drive their vehicles off-road. Instead, SUVs seem to provide many owners with presumably secure private sanctuaries where they might tend to their fears. (See Keith Bradsher, “Delving Into the Pysche of SUV and Minivan Buyers,” Financial Post, July 18, 2000, C3.)

To some extent, the Hummer was the ultimate SUV. A military vehicle used by the armed forces in the First Gulf War, the Hummer was redesigned as a civilian family vehicle, albeit one that maintained its militaristic panache. The recession spelled the end of the Hummer what with its ten-miles-per-gallon fuel efficiency, but Hummers on the streets of American cities at the turn of the century wonderfully suggested the bourgeoning security consciousness. Huge numbers of Americans have a bunker mentality. They are afraid of terrorists, crime, and often social life in general.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Nick Zales

    Americans are generally not afraid of anything. Thanks to George Bush, Americans were scared on a daily basis as the national security state he implemented worked to instill fear. A scared man himself, Bush’s phobias and delusions became national policy. So drive those SUVs and think you are safe. As long as our government rules by fear, which it still does, people will go crazy and think a 4,000-pound vehicle will keep them safe.

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