The average fuel price in the U.S. has fallen to $2.47 a gallon, down from a peak of $3.69 in April and dropping below $2.50 for the first time since October 2009. Gas prices in many places in middle of the country have even dipped below $2 a gallon. Missouri, close to the geographic centre of the U.S., is where drivers can find the cheapest gas as of today, according to GasBuddy.com. “As of this morning, there are 24 states with prices under $2 a gallon. But Missouri is lowest,” GasBuddy’s senior petroleum analyst Patrick DeHaan told USA Today on Friday. The last time gas hit $1.99 a gallon in Missouri was June 2009. “It’s not guaranteed, of course. But we think they’ll drop a little more, 5 to 15 cents a gallon,” he said. Areas east of Nashville, Tennessee, also are reporting prices of less than $2.
Lower fuel prices — caused by OPEC’s decision to play the short game against United States oil production — is putting more money into the pockets of consumers, who are, in turn, using the savings to buy new vehicles, including SUVs, CUVs and trucks. The new-car rush is lifting December sales to its highest levels in over a decade. J.D. Power and LMC Automotive both forecast a gargantuan 10.4% year-on-year increase in December, also predicting that this year will close at 16.5 million and that 2015 will see 17 million units sold for the first time since 2001.
Is the fuel price situation going to get better? American Automobile Association travel analysts think so. They estimate that current gas prices are likely to drop as much as 7 cents by Christmas and possibly 7 more cents by New Year’s. Automotive News agrees and reports that by New Year’s Day, gasoline could be selling for as much as $2.25 to $2.40 nationally, a seasonal low not seen since 2008. But because of higher fuel taxes, some states won’t crack the $2 barrier. 13 states, many in the South, have gas taxes of less than 40 cents a gallon, according to the American Petroleum Institute. For 17 states gas taxes are more than 50 cents a gallon. Among the states with the highest gas taxes: California at 68.87 cents, New York at 68.65 cents and Hawaii at 66.29 cents. The rock-bottom lowest gas tax? Alaska at 30.8 cents a gallon.
U.S. December and Full Year 2014 sales figures will be available on 2 January 2015.