Rising gas prices in the U.S. have created an even greater demand for fuel efficient vehicles, but the disaster in Japan could make those vehicles harder to find. Average gas prices have climbed to $3.55 a gallon nationwide and $3.50 a gallon in Iowa. John Nus, a Toyota sales manager in Cedar Rapids, says hybrid vehicle sales have tripled in recent months.
“Gas mileage has really come into the forefront of what people are really interested in when purchasing a new automobile today,” Nus said. The earthquake, tsunami and nuclear threat in Japan could stall that growth. The top selling hybrid vehicle in the U.S. is the Toyota Prius, which is 100% made in Japan.
Their availability in the Midwest could dry up since at least three major auto makers have suspended operations in Japan. “We’ve had very little communication, so we’re are at question mark stage at this point,” Nus said. “As far as availability and what we’re going to be able to sell, it’s going to be very limited – we’re talking, probably for the next two to three months, probably only another 7 to 10 vehicles in the Prius line.”
By Nadia Crow, KCRG, Cedar Rapids