The impact of MPG regulations
GATHER ’round, children: a long time ago, before S.U.V.’s roamed the earth, families great and small piled into something called a station wagon.
It was a primitive thing, often paneled in wood — yes, it is true — and later a man-made, nostalgic variety thereof. These pioneering wagons served Americans well, though today you young’uns would be seized by child protective services if they spotted you bouncing in back, innocent of seat belts and such notions as parental supervision.
Younger generations can be forgiven if they see station wagons as hazy boomer memories. Some companies stubbornly roll out new wagons, but buyers mostly ignore them. Mazda recently axed its terrific 6 wagon after selling just 12,249 retail copies in 2004-7. Dodge has announced the end of its muscular but weak-selling Magnum.
Do you want to know what happened to the station wagon? It is called CAFE regulations. The MPG regulations were imposed on station wagon and not SUVs. Not a deep mystery, but with Bush signing the new MPG regulations this week it shows how important these regulations are in pushing people away from the cars that they otherwise would have purchased.