As Gas Prices Soar, Buyers Find Fewer Fuel-Efficient Car Options

Americans looking to offset surging gasoline prices with a more fuel-thrifty vehicle aren’t likely to find much on the car lot today.

The sharp rise in fuel costs, driven in large part by the war in Ukraine and related disruptions, is delivering another shock to the car business and triggering renewed focus on fuel economy after a multiyear boom in sport-utility vehicle and pickup truck sales. It also comes as new- and used-car inventory on dealership lots is at historic lows, leaving buyers with slim pickings for those looking to make a switch, according to dealers, executives and analysts.

Average gas prices in the U.S. hit $4.33 Saturday after recently breaking a record set in July 2008, according to AAA. A U.S. ban on Russian oil imports, revealed Tuesday, is poised to drive fuel costs higher in the near-term.

While still early, buyers are already showing more interest in gas-sipping models, including hybrids and electric vehicles, dealers and analysts say.