Is it possible there might be something good about the run up in gas prices?
Soaring gas prices have turned the steady migration by Americans to smaller cars into a stampede.
In what industry analysts are calling a first, about one in five vehicles sold in the United States was a compact or subcompact car during April, based on monthly sales data released Thursday. Almost a decade ago, when sport utility vehicles were at their peak of popularity, only one in every eight vehicles sold was a small car.
The switch to smaller, more fuel-efficient vehicles has been building in recent years, but has accelerated recently with the advent of $3.50-a-gallon gas. At the same time, sales of pickup trucks and large sport utility vehicles have dropped sharply.
In another first, fuel-sipping four-cylinder engines surpassed six-cylinder models in popularity in April.
It would be nice if this would also lead to a demand for the government to increase research into alternative energy sources and to wean us off of imported fossil fuels.
But if history is any indicator, there’s no reason to be optimistic.
When prices drop to a level that most people will accept as “normal”, they’ll go back to buying oversized ego machines.