A few years ago, high(ish) gas prices and fierce competition had Detroit automakers talking about the "perfect storm" that the domestic industry was facing. Fast forward to 2008 and the entire auto industry, not just U.S. automakers, is in a full-blown tsunami. Gas is $4 per gallon, the U.S. is muddling its way through some seriously wobbly financial times, and now the price of steel has nearly doubled in five months to $1,035 per ton. Since just this January, the cost of steel in your automobile has risen $500 per car. The reasons for the sharp incline in prices includes both the increased cost of energy for steel makers and higher demand for the strong stuff coming from rapid growth in countries like China and India.

With everybody feeling the pinch of high materials, which also includes sharp increases in platinum and aluminum, suppliers are passing these costs on to OEMs, who in turn will be passing them on to us. That means we may soon be paying a lot more for our next vehicle. With rising gas prices, inflation, and a weak U.S. economy, car customers appear to be experiencing their own little thunder storm, too.

[Source: Automotive News - sub. req'd]


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