Oil prices have been falling since mid-June, and though it’s debatable whether speculators or market fundamentals drove the boom (and now possible bust), it is clear that $4 a gallon gas crimped demand. But for how long? With prices now again below that psychological threshold but still $1.19 more than a year ago, auto industry data suggest that even mild relief could reverse the trend toward fuel efficiency, the LA Times reports.
Consumer interest in gas-electric hybrids is down 34% since June, while desire for undercover guzzlers like SUV compact crossovers is up, auto industry tracker Edmunds.com says. "With the initial shock of high gas prices fading, consumers are returning to rationality and again viewing gas consumption as just one of many factors when considering their next vehicle," said Edmunds’s CEO.