According to Peterson, there are a couple of reasons for the difference in consumer reaction to the spike in fuel prices this time around. One is that buyers know that the 2008 gasoline prices eventually came back down, so they see no reason to panic and trade-in their large gas-guzzlers for smaller, eco-friendlier vehicles. Reason number two is that fuel efficiency, even of larger vehicles, has improved over the past few years allowing drivers to keep them as they try to ride out the high gas prices.
Still, automakers focusing on building more fuel efficient vehicles (i.e., pretty much all of them) need not fear. AutoPacific expects hybrid vehicle sales to grow to 1.3 million units by 2016 (we are currently at 300,000 units).
[Source: Automotive News – sub. req. | Image: A Siegel – C.C. License 2.0]