Henry Payne, [whiney voice] mommy mommy it's just not faaaaaiiiihhhh hhhaaaaiiiir...
For twenty years, auto fuel economy has remained flat because buyers value size and horsepower over fuel economy. Now, with the Energy bill’s onerous fuel mandates signed into law by President Bush, manufacturers will be forced – emphasis on forced – to raise the fuel economy of the cars they sell by 40 percent in just ten years.

How to do 40-in-10 when we just did zero-in-20? Auto insiders admit they don’t know.
They'd probably never think of moving some of their European or Asian subsidiary's production facilities to the US.
The “new” technologies that Washington champions – hybrids and plug-in electrics – haven’t really been tested yet in the U.S. mass market. Hybrids have only sold well in fashionable cars like the Prius (Honda has even discontinued two hybrid models due to poor sales). To make a dent in fuel economy, hybrids need to sell in bigger, high-volume vehicles like SUVs (which make up 54 percent of vehicles sold) – and GM, the market leader in this respect, is only just rolling out the first 2008 SUV hybrids.

The first plug-in electric, GM’s Volt, doesn’t hit showrooms until 2010 – assuming it overcomes technological hurdles the engineers are still working on.

Without revolutionary sales gains in these two areas or $7 a gallon gas prices that have brought diesel into wide use in Europe (an approach resisted by tax-shy U.S. pols), industry spokesmen say they they’ll have to start eliminating classes of vehicles. First to go? Big SUVs like the Ford Expedition or Chevy Suburban.

As with all backdoor mandates, the question is whether the public will notice.
That's right! Market forces have nothing to do with the demise of the SUV...
"They have to do it," says senior analyst John Wolkonowicz. "It is what consumers want." [...]

It is an ignoble end to a proud motoring era. Not more than 15 years ago, SUVs ruled the automotive landscape and produced record profits during Detroit's last golden age. Now the most popular SUV of that era, the Ford Explorer, is headed to the scrap heap, done in by fuel economy and the lingering effects of tire-shredding and rollover issues from several years ago.

The Explorer has been a shadow of its former self, selling at less than half of the 400,000 units a year it did during its glory years. The name will continue on but the vehicle is moving on the passenger car platform used by the Ford Taurus around 2011. [...]

Serious off-roaders, though, will want to stick with their Jeep Wranglers and Hummers, which will stay true to their rugged truck roots. Likewise, drivers who find themselves towing trailers will also want to keep their Chevy Tahoes and Suburbans, or Ford Expeditions, which will soldier on with their historic parts in place.
Looks like we won't notice the difference after all!