- Absolute gas price: $2.80
- Inflation-adjusted price: $3.49 (#8 most expensive year in 84-year span)
In 2007, oil prices rose once again, and at the end of the year had hit $90 per barrel. This caused gasoline prices to rise as well, with an increase of about 8% from the year prior. Though they ultimately continued to surge, costs dropped ever so slightly near the end of 2007, which experts attributed to the combination of lower gasoline demand during winter months, and consumers becoming disillusioned with steep numbers at the pump.
- Absolute gas price: $3.27
- Inflation-adjusted price: $3.92 (#3 most expensive year in 84-year span)
Over the course of 2008, oil prices hit both historic highs and lows: From July to December, oil prices dropped from approximately $147 to $33 per barrel, all while nations around the globe felt the effects of the Great Recession. Oil prices directly impacted gasoline prices, which peaked this year at $3.27 before dropping substantially. The combination of falling income and rising gasoline prices also led to a large decrease in the sale of SUVs, which spelled huge financial trouble for the oil and automobile industries.
- Absolute gas price: $2.35
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.83 (#28 most expensive year in 84-year span)
By 2009, a combination of factors brought about the death of the Hummer as both a car and lifestyle brand. The previous year's high gasoline prices made the Hummer a very costly vehicle to drive, and attitudes towards SUVs were changing as citizens grappled with harsh environmental realities. With Hummer drivers experiencing increasing public shaming, Hummer sales dropped to 5,487 units for the year. Trouble was afoot elsewhere in the automotive industry: Both General Motors and Chrysler were hit so hard by the recession that they required government bailouts.
- Absolute gas price: $2.79
- Inflation-adjusted price: $3.30 (#12 most expensive year in 84-year span)
Four years after “An Inconvenient Truth” detailed some of the potential lasting damage modern-scale fuel reliance could do, the automobile industry was getting in on the renewable energy game. In the wake of high gas prices, which would soon rise again, hybrid and electric vehicles began to hit the market. In 2010, the Department of Energy granted Tesla $465 million to develop electric cars at a California facility. That same year, Chevy released a plug-in hybrid, and Nissan released a 100% electric model called the LEAF.
- Absolute gas price: $3.53
- Inflation-adjusted price: $4.05 (#2 most expensive year in 84-year span)
2011 was the first year in which average prices for both gasoline and diesel consistently stayed above $3 per gallon. These record highs can be attributed to inflated costs in the crude oil market, after the Obama administration and UN Security Council instigated a military intervention in Libya. Libya is one of the world's largest oil producers, and as a result, the nation's ability to produce and export oil was disrupted, causing price shocks throughout the global oil market.
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- Absolute gas price: $3.64
- Inflation-adjusted price: $4.09 (#1 most expensive year in 84-year span)
In 2012, the national average price of gasoline was up $0.09 to a new high of $3.64 per gallon. The American Automobile Association offered a number of reasons for prices continuing to climb, including the devastating impact of Hurricane Sandy, among other costly storms, as well as continued tensions in the Middle East. Analysts noted, however, that despite high prices at gas stations, Americans were not necessarily spending more on gasoline overall, due to a large dip in total demand for the product.
- Absolute gas price: $3.53
- Inflation-adjusted price: $3.91 (#6 most expensive year in 84-year span)
After several years of dramatic jumps, gasoline prices fell slightly in 2013 to the same absolute price as 2011. A key reason for this movement towards lower prices was an increase in domestic oil production within the United States. In October of 2013, America produced more oil domestically than it imported from other nations. The United States had not produced more than it imported in nearly two decades, and this milestone came with an additional marker: The country had not imported so little crude oil since 1991.
- Absolute gas price: $3.37
- Inflation-adjusted price: $3.68 (#7 most expensive year in 84-year span)
The average cost of gas in 2014 ultimately fell lower than it did in 2013, but not without a few sharp peaks along the way. In April, a time when gas prices tend to spike, the average price per gallon across the nation was $3.70, higher than it had been during the same month the previous year. The conflict in Iraq was a cause of these high prices, as the Islamic State group seizing control of much of the country led to a disruption of Iraq's oil supply. After these summer spikes, many states would begin to see prices flatten or fall leading into the next year.
- Absolute gas price: $2.45
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.67 (#37 least expensive year in 84-year span)
By September of 2016, gas prices had fallen so much that only four states (California, Nevada, Alaska, and Hawaii) maintained an average cost above $3 a gallon; in some states, the average gas price fell below $2. The falling prices can be partially attributed to the United States' rising domestic production, which typically would cause OPEC to limit its own production in order to drive up global oil demand. However, Saudi Arabia, the leader of OPEC, showed no signs of slowing and continued to export oil at its normal capacity, leading to a glut in the market and low prices at the pump.
- Absolute gas price: $2.14
- Inflation-adjusted price: $2.30 (#20 least expensive year in 84-year span)
Gasoline prices continued to fall throughout 2015 and 2016, which, for most drivers, was only happy news. In fact, government officials estimated that the low cost of gas the previous year had saved drivers $100 billion. Some analysts pointed out that extremely low oil prices, leading to low gas prices, may be linked to concerning global trends, like slow growth in economic powerhouses like China. For the time being, however, consumers were happy with full tanks. The car industry saw its best year in a long time, with nearly 18 million units sold.
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