About half of the American population would change their driving habits as a result of increased costs at the pump, according to a recent survey by the Progressive insurance group. Respondents also put gas prices as the number one vehicle cost most out of control (53 percent). Ninety-two percent said they would drive out of their way to buy gas that was 20 cents less a gallon.
However, other recent reports suggest Americans might be following the old cop-out adage “do as I say, not as I do.” Despite the turmoil in the Middle East and gas prices that show no signs of abating, Americans are still buying SUVs in record numbers. In January and February, SUV sales were up 18 percent across the board. Ford’s SUV sales slipped six percent in April, though Ford, Nissan, General Motors and Toyota all reported an increase in SUV sales since last year.
But perhaps the gas-chugging SUV lovers are finally being matched by tree-hugging hybrid lovers. Toyota Motor Co. reported its eighth consecutive record-breaking April, helped in part by strong demand for its gas-electric hybrid Prius sedan. And Honda Motor said its Civic hybrid posted a second consecutive month of record sales, 11 percent more than at this point last year. Honda, the only other automaker currently selling a hybrid in the U.S. retail market, has sold 9,023 Civic hybrids this year.
Another statistic may bear this fuel economy dichotomy out: as light trucks and SUVs continue to gain market share, a recent report by the EPA says that overall fuel economy has remained relatively unchanged in the past few years.