By now it is no secret that gas prices are out of control, and it looks like they will only get worse before they get better. Pundits have long debated how high gas prices would have to rise before consumers stopped complaining and actively started changing their habits. Now that gas is over $4 per gallon in many places, that time seems to have come.
A massive rush on hybrid vehicles started at the beginning of this year and reached a frenzy by May. Dealers are having trouble keeping the popular Toyota Prius and other hybrids on their lots. Some locations have wait lists several months long. In response, Toyota has announced plans to build additional battery plants to allow the company to significantly ramp up production.
Of course, it didn’t take long for other auto manufacturers to realize which way the wind was blowing. Mercedes, for example, launched a complicated green initiative last month called “Road to the Future.” The company plans to launch its own hybrid and fuel cell vehicles under a modular program that will allow consumers to choose the green technologies that best meet their needs. A major part of this program is BlueTEC, Mercedes’ own clean diesel program that cuts emissions as well as improving fuel efficiency.
Even exotic car manufacturers are getting into the game. Ferrari, for example, has announced plans for a new hybrid, as well as a biofuel supercar that runs on ethanol. High-end luxury manufacturers such as Lexus have also announced plans for fuel efficient vehicles.
Now is an exciting time to be a car buyer. New emissions regulations and fuel efficiency standards are being implemented worldwide. Meanwhile, consumers have stepped up to say that they will no longer tolerate gas guzzling cars. These factors are working together to force some of the most massive technological changes that the car industry has ever seen. Car buyers would do well to sit back and wait until the dust settles and the new technologies are fully implemented.