With gas prices stable and below $3/gallon in most communities across the nation, the demand for hybrids and small cars is decreasing. Now that the cost of fueling up a vehicle is no longer a primary factor in choosing which vehicle to buy, Americans’ love for trucks, SUVs and other large vehicles is back.

Less than two years ago, consumers who wanted a Toyota Prius had to wait several months in some parts of the country while Toyota trucks were packaged with rebates and deep discounts. Car lots were full of traded-in SUVs as consumers wanted smaller, more fuel-efficient cars such as the Honda Civic and Toyota Corolla. Now the demand for smaller cars is relatively flat. Additionally, future demand for hybrids and small cars is waning according to a recent study by Edmunds and AutoPacific.

Edmunds.com assessed current automobile research trends and discovered that in January 2009, 16 percent of site visitors were considering a small or hybrid car purchase. That number was 15 percent earlier this year.

Through a series of surveys, AutoPacific researched consumers’ future automobile purchases. In January 2009, 24 percent of those surveyed said they were considering a small car. That number dropped by 50 percent in one year. When the same question was asked in January 2010, only 12 percent said they would consider a small car.

The drop was even more drastic for the hybrid car market. In January 2009, 25 percent of those surveyed said they would consider a hybrid car but in January 2010, that number dropped to 11 percent.

Perhaps General Motors Vice Chairman Bob Lutz’s statement that hybrid cars will never have more than a 10 percent market share is more accurate than he was given credit for. It might just take $5/gallon gas for the hybrid and small car market to see a significant upswing in sales.

Low gas prices hurt hybrid market
Americans love their trucks and SUVs, and affordable gas prices are all that's needed to steer them way from small cars and hybrids.