Monday, May 04, 2009

Is Gasoline Changing California's Car Culture?

The Los Angeles Times takes a look at driver habits in response to fluctuating gasoline prices and reaches a conclusion that has been widely reported already: drivers are driving less as gasoline prices increase. While that might seem elementary and self-evident, the Times goes behind the numbers and offers some revealing observations:

- Beginning in April 2006, California has experienced 11 straight quarters of year-over-year declines in gasoline consumption, despite having more licensed drivers in the state.

- $2 appears to the tipping point for influencing consumer behavior.

- The generational shift appears to be driving consumer behavior more than previously thought; younger drivers who are more environmentally conscious then older drivers are leading the trend toward conservation and cleaner fuels.

- Consumers view gas as a discretionary item over which they have some measure of control, unlike basic staples such as food and housing.

As behaviors continue to shift, one has to wonder if notion of the "California Car Culture" will become a thing of the past, regardless of the price of gas...