Preliminary Data: SUV Sales Inching Back Up

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(Andrea Bernstein, Transportation Nation) For a long time, light truck sales, including SUV's, were about half the retail vehicle market share. In May of 2008, as gas approached $5.00 a gallon in some markets, sales plummeted to 43 percent. But now, according to figures provided to WNYC by Autodata Corporation, they're inching back up, to more than 48 percent of the market share, compared to 47.3 percent in May 2009.

Sales of the tiny Chevy Aveo were up 88 percent from May of 2009 to 2010. But the giant Suburban moved off the lot even faster - 100 percent faster. Sales of the Chevy Equinox were up even more -- from 3,689 in May of 2009 to 13,134 in May of 2010. That's a 256 percent increase.

Toyota didn't fare as well as American automakers, but its Prius sold well -- 41 percent better than this time a year ago. Sales of the The Toyota 4Runner, a large SUV, almost tripled.

Now these numbers are raw, and unadjusted. But they point to an interesting phenomenon. As WNYC Economics Editor Charles Herman reports, Americans are feeling a bit better now then they were in the spring of 2009. The pain of the recession is receding a bit. And so, apparently, is the memory of how much it can cost to fill up the tank of a large SUV.

We'll continue to digest these numbers over the next week.