Move over big fella

The SUV may have had its day, according to the latest vehicle sales data released in April. About 10 years ago, only one in eight vehicles sold was a small car. While climbing gas prices are not a new occurrence, they had not caused significant decreases in the sales of larger, more gas-guzzling vehicles—until now. In what industry analysts are attributing to gas prices climbing close to the $4 mark, one in five automobiles sold in April was a compact or subcompact car. In the same month, four-cylinder engines outsold the less fuel-efficient six-cylinder engine.

The Toyota Yaris and Ford Focus—both models getting more than 30 miles per gallon—saw sales increases of over 30 percent. Meanwhile, SUV sales were down by more than 25 percent.

While no one likes to pay more in gas, economist Kenneth Small of the University of California, Irvine sees a silver lining for the environment. According to New Scientist, he said a $1 per gallon gas hike would mean motorists would use 14 percent less fuel in the long run. That avoids releasing about 2 percent of the United States’ greenhouse gas emissions for 2006, the sorts of cuts some nations are required to make under the Kyoto protocol.