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High oil prices moves Americans towards smaller cars

Oil prices have been steadily moving up for the past couple of years, and even with the overall low rate of taxes on gasoline in the United States (as compared to the most countries where the taxes are much higher), gas prices are now upwards of $3.5 per gallon, and the pain is very high for a country where the car is the primary means of transport for a majority of its citizens.
Previously, the sales figures for gas-guzzling SUV’s and pickup trucks were high, high enough to worry most people trying to reduce the oil consumption in the US, and most so for environmentalists and global warming experts who worried about the higher rate of oil consumption in the transport sector. There has always been an alternative, even in the previous oil shocks of 1973 and 1980, people moved towards more fuel-efficient smaller cars; but this shift was only temporary and people would move back to the gas guzzlers when oil moved down (and hence the overall success of the hummer, a vehicle that drinks gasoline rather than running on it). However, recent trends seem to indicate that the sales of smaller fuel-efficient cars is on the rise:

America’s love affair with sports utility vehicles (SUVs) and pick-up trucks is finally over. The gas-guzzlers that ply the country’s freeways and clog its city streets and parking lots are falling victim to ever-rising petrol prices, rather than concern about the country’s oversized carbon footprint. The fall-off in sales is dramatic however.
With petrol now selling for almost $4 (£2) a gallon, consumers are trading in their Humvees and Ford Explorers so fast that for the first time, one in five cars sold in the US is now a compact or subcompact. In another first, sales of six-cylinder vehicles were bypassed by smaller four-cylinder, mostly Japanese, cars in April. According to George Pipas, of Ford, sales of passenger cars have exceeded trucks and SUVs for the first time in at least 20 years and pick-ups are now on the list of the top 10 vehicles being traded in for every small car in the industry. Large cars and SUVs have long been status symbols for Americans, but as economic reality bites, car showrooms are being turned over to fuel-efficient vehicles.

This is overall good news for the United States. A lot of the problems plaguing the US, whether economically or in the geo-political space are due to its dependence on foreign oil. If this trend continues, it will have the additional benefit of making smaller cars more acceptable, and hence maybe make a small dent in the overall gasoline production.

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