Gasoline prices keep plunging in the United States, falling to an average $2.73 a gallon on Wednesday—down 16 percent from a year ago. While that puts money in drivers’ pockets and boosts the economy, there’s an environmental price to be paid.
That’s because Americans seem to have a Pavlovian response to cheap gas: As prices get smaller, their vehicles—and greenhouse gas emissions—get bigger.
Case in point: Toyota reported on Tuesday that sales of its 4Runner sport utility vehicle jumped 53 percent in November while sales of the Highlander SUV rose nearly 17 percent. “Toyota dealers set new November sales records for light trucks and SUVs,” the company said in a statement.
And sales of Toyota’s 51 miles-per-gallon Prius hybrid? Down nearly 14 percent.
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