We have discussed in many previous articles the reasons why social trends are undercutting vehicle miles driven – the growing use of the Internet for working and for shopping, the preference for social contact through electronic medium rather than personal contact for our teenagers and youth, and housing and work patterns that favor the use of alternative modes of transportation over personal vehicles. The cartoon below addresses why America's teenagers are not getting their driver's licenses. It is hard to see many of these factors changing soon.
We remain convinced that Toyota's view of future new car sales in the U.S. will prove more accurate than the forecasts calling for an ever upward sales projection. In the early 2000s, before the financial crisis, when yearly car sales were in 19-20 million units a year range, the market was in a bubble supported by the housing bubble and the use of home equity loans to finance all sorts of consumer spending including new vehicles. We believe that U.S. social and demographic trends impacting the amount of driving will prove stronger than auto forecasters who believe we will return to historic auto-buying patterns. None of these beliefs are overly negative for the outlook for the auto industry or those businesses closely associated with new car sales, however, increased vehicle fuel-efficiency mandates will take a toll on the volume of gasoline sales meaning a challenging future for the petroleum industry. That outlook needs to be assessed in light of the other trends at work in the U.S. and North American energy market, all of which could result in the U.S. reassessing its prohibition against crude oil exports
Eoin Treacy's view Gasoline prices have been ranging within a somewhat triangular pattern since early 2011 and have dropped from the July peak near $3.25 to test the progression of higher reaction lows. While some steadying is to be expected in the current area, a clear upward dynamic will be required to check the downward bias.
$4 has represented a psychological Rubicon for the Daily National Average Gasoline Price since at least 2008. The Index has held a progression of lower rally highs since 2011 and a sustained move above $3.75 would be required question medium-term scope for continued lower to lateral ranging.
The S&P500 Oil & Gas Refining and Marketing Index hit a medium-term peak near 500 from March and dropped back to test the 400 area over the last few weeks. A clear upward dynamic will be required to confirm the return of demand to dominance in this region.