Gas Prices (Finally) Affecting Car Sales?

High and MightyA Mainichi Daily Times story announced today sales of energy-efficient Japanese cars soar in U.S. Toyota and Nissan both saw 12% sales growth, with Toyota’s Prius sales jumping to 260% their numbers from a year ago. Honda, which usually wears the energy efficiency leader’s hat, saw a nearly 7% increase in sales.

Ever prideful, MDN notes:

In sharp contrast, the sales of new cars sold by General Motors and other American automakers in March posted decreases from a year earlier.

The story goes on to make the conclusion that many have been hesitant about:

It shows that energy-efficient Japanese cars have become increasingly popular with U.S. consumers due to the sharp rise in oil prices.

In High and Highty, Keith Bradsher quotes that gas prices would have to climb to around $3 a gallon to have the same effect on car purchasing patterns as the 1970s oil crisis did. Though recent predictions that oil could go over $100 a barrel may suggest gas prices could go over $4 a gallon. Whatever goes on, it seems clear we won’t be seeing gas get back to its late 90s 98 cents a gallon price…ever.

Suggestion: This probably isn’t the time to go buy a CXT, or a Tatra T813 or a Ford Excursion (despite that they can apparently carry a huge payload).

[update:] This story about the “Hubbert peak” does a fair job of explaining why gas prices can’t go down.