SUV parking lot

The average gas price in the U.S. is over $3 right now, and there's a good chance it'll go higher before too long. What do you do in this situation if you're a car dealer with a lot full of SUVs and big crossovers? You start being cautious.

That's the takeaway point from an Automotive News article, with the key quote coming from a New York Ford dealer, who told the industry publication:
SUVs are still important in this area, but people are downsizing to more fuel efficient SUVs instead. We are still stocking with the idea that it may go either way. Hoping for the best, but prepared for anything.
For the moment, gas prices aren't high enough to make people panic and try to offload their gas hogs the way we saw in 2008, but Kelley Blue Book analyst Alec Gutierrez told Automotive News that SUV sales could drop "dramatically" once gas reaches $3.50 or $4 a gallon, saying, "The days where a dealer could just go to auction and stock up on a bunch of SUVs and hold them for 40 or 60 days are over."

The last time gas jumped up to panic levels was in 2008. That's when Joe Crawford took the picture that illustrates this post. In the accompanying Flickr caption, he writes:
So a local (Culver City) car dealer started storing cars on the top of our parking garage. I always park on the roof, so anytime I am up there I see the cars. I have taken to think of these cars as an economic indicator. They all seem to be SUV vehicles. I wonder about why they are up there, and why there seems to be more every week. I suspect the fact that they're stored here has something to do with the price of gas.
We suspect he's right, and we can't imagine there are dealers out there who want to have to go through a process like that again.

[Source: Automotive News – sub. req. | Image: Joe Crawford – C.C. 2.0]