Today begins Creative Loafings annual countdown of Atlantas 11 Least Influential People, a tribute to the Joe and Josephine Averages of the world who try, but don't necessarily succeed.
Winners 11 through six will be revealed, one-per-day, until Wednesday, November 12, when the 11 Least Influential issue hits newsstands.
It wasnt that long ago that SUV brands like the Hummer, the Expedition, the Denali and the Suburban were kings of road in metro Atlanta.
Cheap fuel and easy credit made the behemoths affordable to millions of middle and working class Americans, while high profit margins and lax federal fuel efficiency regulations for large vehicles encouraged car makers to flood the market with them.
2006 and 2007 were prime time for SUVs, says Joshua Riley, a 20-year veteran of the car business. Prime time.
Today, he says, the SUV business has crashed.
The Hummer is a dead model, he says with no emotion.
How about the Suburban?
The Suburban is a dead model.
By dead he doesnt mean theyre not running. He means theyre not selling.
People who want large cars, are now going with a sedan or a mini-van.
In his opinion, two things killed the SUV: volatile gas prices and tighter credit.
Banks dont want to loan money on them anymore. Lenders are less sure of consumers ability to pay back large car loans, so theyre jacking up interest rates, thus steering buyers to smaller cars.
Riley says dealerships, including his own, are reluctant to take SUV trade-ins because they cant easily turn around and sell them like they used to.
Ive had a Ford Explorer sitting here forever, he says.
He estimates his income is down 50 percent from 2006. He cant afford to go on vacation, go out to eat, or buy new clothes.
And what kind of car does Riley drive?
A Toyota Corolla. I bought it used.
Coming Saturday morning on Fresh Loaf: No. 10
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