2010 Toyota Prius
During Jackson’s presentation he recounted a story of a local Colorado Toyota dealer that in January of 2008 had a line of new Toyota Prius models on his lot. The problem? They just weren’t selling and to punctuate that point Toyota had started offering the first ever sales incentives on the Prius. Then something happened that turned the tide of the small economy car market; gas prices jumped only to land near $4 a gallon (even higher in some places with diesel being most expensive). All of a sudden dealers saw people trying to shed their large trucks and sport utility vehicles for smaller more economical cars. Environmentalism and Economy became the focus for the summer of 2008. The same Toyota dealer that had a surplus of Prius models on the lot, now had to be put on a waiting list in order to get more cars. People were saying that this was the death of SUVs and trucks for the masses.
Lightning Hybrids LH4 World Debut at the 2009 Denver Auto Show
In the end, the environmental and economical factor of small cars in today’s society isn’t what sells them. Their sales are directly related to the health of the economy and the price of gasoline. When people can’t afford to fill the tank, they will give up their large vehicles and opt for something that costs less than half to run. However, when times are good and gas is cheap, all of a sudden a small cars becomes the epitome of inconvenient.
Bottom line—the small car will end up being a necessity for the American auto industry. Why? Because people just can’t argue with cars like the Lightning Hybrid that is capable of achieving 100 mpg.