China's Thirst for Gaz-Guzzlers Boosts Oil Demand

SUV sales jump 43% over last year
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 28, 2008 3:41 AM CDT
A model stands next to a Buick Riviera at the Auto China 2008 auto show in Beijing. While Americans are buying smaller cars, Chinese consumers are buying gas guzzlers.    (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
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(Newser) – While soaring gas prices are driving Americans to buy more energy-efficient cars, Chinese consumers are opting for gas-guzzling Buicks and Hummers, reports the Washington Post. China accounts for 40% of the world's recent increase in oil demand. There were few private cars in China 15 years ago, but today there are 15.2 million. The Chinese like them big. The number of SUVs sold rose 43% in May compared with last year.

 "In China, size matters," said a business owner with a Hummer. "People want to have a car that shows off their status in society. No one wants to buy small." Despite the increase in Chinese gas demand, the US still remains the world's No. 1 oil consumer, with about one of every eight barrels of oil produced ending up in an American vehicle.