Gasoline prices in the United States have backed off from their springtime peaks and have stabilized at an average of less than $2 a gallon. That's good news for American families driving around the country on summer vacations, and it's good news for the automakers that produce big trucks and the dealers who sell them.
But the price relief can't last forever, and automakers must act accordingly. Many marketing experts say gasoline prices must top $3 a gallon and stay there for several months before consumers shift their buying habits. But there are telltale signs that consumers already favor vehicles that get better fuel economy. Consider these trends:
Yet Ford still depends on the Ford F-150 for the lion's share of its sales and profits. General Motors isn't getting much traction in reducing its dependence on trucks. The Chrysler group plans more derivatives of the Dodge Ram, and Toyota is building a big-truck plant in Texas.
It's OK for automakers to sell big SUVs and pickups. But it is not in the best interests of shareholders, employees, dealers or consumers to pretend that this market will last forever.