How the U.S. Got Hooked on Big Cars — Despite Their Downsides

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Americans love big cars. 

It gave the world Cadillacs with massive tailfins and oversize pickup trucks. 

In Europe, for example, small cars like city cars, subcompacts, and compact cars made up more than 35 percent of sales in 2021, according to industry analyst JATO Dynamics. In the United States, those three segments made up just over 10 percent of sales. 

Consumer demand has driven automakers to make vehicles bigger and bigger, and regulatory loopholes favoring trucks, some industry analysts say, also have played a part in that shift. 

But there are downsides. Big cars are more expensive — often much more — and, especially if they burn gasoline, more harmful to the environment. Accidents involving these bigger cars also contribute to more fatalities on American roads than smaller vehicles, some research has found.

Watch the video to learn more.

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