Small Cars Surge Amid Sky-High Gas Prices

1 in 5 vehicles sold in April was compact or subcompact
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 2, 2008 8:44 AM CDT
2008 Focus sedans sit outside a Ford dealership in the east Denver suburb of Aurora, Colo., on Sunday, Jan. 20, 2008.    (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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(Newser) – Facing ballooning gas prices, many Americans are turning to smaller cars, with about one in five vehicles sold in April a compact or subcompact, the New York Times reports. That compares to one in eight 10 years ago. “It’s easily the most dramatic segment shift I have witnessed in the market in my 31 years here,” said Ford’s chief sales analyst.

SUV sales fell 25% this year; meanwhile, four-cylinder engines outsold six-cylinders for the first time last month. The trend has put a big dent in the profits of Detroit’s Big Three automakers, now scrambling to catch up with Honda and Toyota's smaller vehicles. “The era of the truck-based large SUV’s is over,” said an industry watcher.