Now, in a discussion of long-term prices, Lutz has a point. The real cost of gas today is just under what it cost in the late 1970s. And I certainly cannot disagree with him when he says that European-level gas prices (~$8 a gallon) will cause Americans to rethink the types of cars they drive (I should point out that Lutz didn't call for a gas tax or anything like that). But is Lutz right when he says that's the only way this contemplation will happen? I doubt it. We don't need $8 gallons of gas to force a change, especially if that change comes over the next ten years. You'd see one hell of a shift to small cars if gas were $5 a gallon two weeks from now. It's the slow increases that keep us in our big cars and SUVs. We see the prices go up over time and just swallow and insert the credit card. A quick jump will reframe the debate.
[Source: Automotive News]
Gas prices in the U.S. From the DOE.