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Fuel Efficiency Taking Spotlight At Auto Show

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Toyota Prius is displayed at the Chicago Auto Show (Credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

Toyota Prius is displayed at the Chicago Auto Show (Credit: Frank Polich/Getty Images)

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CHICAGO (WBBM) – Gas prices have marched upward steadily for the past two months, and a number of the auto executives attending the Chicago Auto Show say it is affecting what people want to see at the show and in the showroom.

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“There’s definitely been a little bit of a shift,” said Chevrolet Vice President Rick Scheidt. “It’s come gradually.”

Toyota Motor Sales USA Group Vice President Bob Carter said the proof is a 25 percent January increase in sales of its Prius, despite frigid weather. Hyundai North America President/CEO John Krafcik said what customers want to see tracks closely with gas prices.

They said gas prices have been on the increase for two months, driving potential buyers to more fuel-efficient models.

Not everyone agrees.

“The shock of the big crisis happened before,” said Dodge President/CEO Ralph Gilles. “People understand that needs don’t change. I can react quickly to the gas prices but I think people are thinking longer-term.”

Regardless, there appears to be a bit of a balancing act at the Chicago Auto Show. Although much of the publicity is focusing on fuel-efficient, hybrid and plug-in cars, muscle cars are in abundance.

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