SUVs, big ol' pickups and "performance" cars have been removed from showrooms across the Fruited Plain, and stuck on the back lot. Now the featured vehicles are the fuel-mileage champs. New car dealers are knocking $5000 off the retail price of their SUV lineup and they're still not moving. People trying to unload their "upside-down" Hummers and Excursions and Durangos are finding it takes 90 days or more to sell 'em, at prices $3000 less than their blue-book value. They appear to be going the way of the brontosaurus.
Have you seen Chrysler's new gimmick? Apparently the lifetime power-train warranty wasn't helping sell vehicles, so now they have the "$2.99 gas guarantee" for the first 3 years of ownership. (Of course, if you pay the sticker price for some of those dinosaurs, you're paying the difference up-front.)
On Saturday, I saw a huge maroon Ford Super Duty Crew Cab with the giant chrome wheels and custom hood (they love a hood that's hard to see over, what with the big scoop or whatever on it). Although it was a half-block away, I could tell it was a diesel by the racket. The most distinguishing feature was a huge barrel-type fuel tank in the bed, painted the same color as the truck. I bet it holds 100 gallons! (Which means the truck costs close to $500 to fill up.) I hope the owner REALLY likes it, because it's probably not worth half what he has invested in it, in today's market. He can use his Economic Stimulus money to fill the tank.
Say what you want about $3.50+ gas... but IMO it's driving a good trend in personal transportation. Folks are thinking long and hard about how much a "status symbol" is worth in extra expense. (It's unfortunate that the cost of transporting goods has gone up proportionately. But on the other hand, the market will decide - I expect railway transport to have a resurgence in popularity, since it costs so much less than truck transportation.)
As the price of fuel continues to spiral upward, bicycle transportation just keeps looking better and better!