Any reader who's not driving a battery-electric car (and there are relatively few of you) may have noticed that gas prices have stopped rising, recently.
They're even falling slightly--and, more important, the national average price is slightly cheaper this year ($3.84 per gallon) than it was at this time last year ($3.86 per gallon).
As TheCarConnection explains in more detail, there are several reasons for the gas-price drop:
- More oil is reaching U.S. refineries;
- Demand has fallen, and prices may be catching up; and
- Memories of Iran's threat to close the vital Strait of Hormuz shipping lane are fading.
But while U.S. gasoline consumption peaked in 2006 and has fallen every year since then, fuel costs are still a major concern for most households.
Even as cars get more efficient--with much higher fuel-economy numbers coming through 2016, with standards through 2025 expected late this year--gasoline represents a noticeable part of most families' budgets.
The average fuel economy of new cars sold hit an all-time high last month, topping 24 miles per gallon for the first time ever.
Strait of Hormuz, between Iran and U.A.E., as shown on Google Maps
That's across all passenger vehicles, from the 50-mpg Toyota Prius hybrid to the large numbers of full-size pickup trucks and sport-utility vehicles sold each month.
And unless you trade in a compact sedan for that full-size sport utility, the mileage on your next vehicle is likely to be better than the fuel efficiency delivered by the car you have today.
Still, that shouldn't be a reason for complacency. Gas prices may drop now, but they may equally well stay high, or fall and then rise again.
Under the theory that while any individual member of a group may not know an answer, often if you ask a lot of people and average their responses, you may approach the right number...we have a question.
What do you think will happen to gas prices over the next year? Over the next five years?
Leave us your thoughts in the Comments below.