Finally the cup holder has been overtaken as the most important feature of a new car.  It was beat out by fuel economy.  Americans have finally confessed and admitted that fuel efficiency is the most important factor to consider when purchasing a new car.  But, insiders at the Big Three knew this possibly decades ago.

Over the last couple of decades, Americans car buyers have swayed towards large SUVs and full size trucks.  This decision was not influenced by fuel economy concerns.  Rather, as one industry analysts suggests, these oversize vehicles were at the top of automakers lists and they had no desire to change their mindset.

According to ex-GM economist Walter McManus, the Big Three dismissed concerns about fuel efficiency because it did not fit into beliefs within the corporate board rooms.  McManus conducted research for GM.  He even admits to changing survey results to fit with corporate beliefs.  As McManus said, "The survey would estimate that people would estimate fuel economy fairly highly.  Being a good economist, I said, 'No, they don't,' and I changed the results. [...] Our job was not to seek the truth, but to justify decisions that had already been made."

Walter McManus is currently a professor and the head of the Automotive Analysis division of the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan.  His words were recently spoken in an interview with Energy and Environment News.

The Big Three were aware of demand for fuel efficient vehicles, yet would not budge from their decisions to produce fuel gulping vehicles.  These vehicles were profit makers for the company.  However, times quickly changed and consumers demanded fuel efficiency and the Big Three were too slow to react to a demand they saw coming for decades.

Too bad GM did not follow consumer demand.  If they did follow the fuel efficiency route decades ago, the Volt could be in generation II or III by now.

Source:  Energy and Environment News  (login required)