The three major Japanese automakers, as though in a time warp to the first fuel crunch in the Seventies, are gearing up to release their latest small vehicles on U.S. shores in 2006. (Yaris, Fit*, and Versa, respectively.)
Timing, again, couldn’t be more perfect. Though prices have dropped from $3 per gallon, government and independent studies forecast eventual increases through the next twenty years. And the public agrees: sales of small vehicles such as the Chevrolet Aveo and alternative fuel vehicles like the hybrid Prius have all risen.

Unlike the Seventies, though, it’s not just fuel savings attracting American interest. The new vehicles are well-equipped compared to the old econoboxes of yesteryear with features like MP3 capability (Yaris), an advanced braking system (Versa), and others once found in costlier models.

The competition is heating up. Again.

*Picture is of the Honda Fit, also known as the Jazz.

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