-- Jonathan Browning, CEO, Volkswagen Group of America
If you envisage a scenario with the price of gas going [to $5], it will change the dynamics in terms of consumer behavior, not just in terms of the segments but also in readiness to pay for the technologies that help deliver fuel efficiency.
That balance between the cost of technology and the fuel efficiency that results from it is going to be an interesting development in this market. And if it's not associated with an increase in gas price levels, it's going to be even more hard to achieve the objectives.
-- Micky Bly, executive director of global electrical systems, hybrids, EVs and batteries, General Motors Co.
There is very clear correlation of hybrid sales to the price of fuel. If you go back 10 years and pull [data] -- as fuel prices go up, their sales go up.
I think there are thresholds. Three dollars is a big psychological barrier. We do a lot of market research on this.
It's kind of a funny positioning because the story gets better for electrification for the cost savings that you get from electrification, but you don't want to advertise and live off the publicity, "Hey the Volt just got cheaper because gas prices are going up." But the reality is, it's true.
-- Jim McDowell, vice president, head of Mini brand in U.S., BMW of North America
The small car category was tremendously affected by the recession and also the drop in gas prices. Mini sales are so highly correlated with gas prices that when gas increases in price, that provides a natural incentive for people to accelerate a decision that they've already been thinking about.
As we got in the fourth quarter, floor traffic in Mini dealerships substantially increased. Our incentive spending didn't increase in the fourth quarter. I think it was partly because of people feeling better about the economy, partly because of increased gas prices.
-- Herbert Kohler, vice president of e-drive and future mobility, Daimler AG
Fuel prices are directly linked to interest in alternative powertrain solutions. In 2008, there was enthusiasm, but when prices decreased, the mood was minimized. You can see the link.
But I am totally convinced that sooner or later we will be back in that situation. The tendency is for the price to increase.
What is the right technology? We simply don't know that. The best solution is to have flexibility of technology and production capacity to cover the changes in demand.
-- Robert Davis, senior vice president of product development and quality, Mazda North American Operations
Everyone's predicting fuel prices to go up this year. If we have the kind of creep, then I think that's going to give us one kind of environment. If we have a spike, that's going to certainly give us a different environment, [like] the lobster in the pot when it starts to boil, versus the shock to the system when you throw it in.
I think milestone events obviously seem to have a big impact, when you go from $3 to $4, or $3 to $3.50.