Interest in fuel-efficient cars increasing as gas prices spike

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PHOENIX -- Gas prices have risen 12 percent since January, according to AAA of Arizona, and that's driving many people to consider more fuel-efficient vehicles.

Courtesy Chevrolet and Camelback Toyota in Phoenix both say they've noticed a surge of interest in their hybrid and more fuel-efficient cars.

"People are unsure about the marketplace now, you see a lot of people with big trucks and SUVs looking to trade in those for cars that are more fuel-efficient and just being more conscientious about their fuel budget," explained Jesse Gray, a sales manager at Camelback Toyota.

Gray says more customers are inquiring about the Toyota Prius and the Scion IQ, a new compact model that arrived in the U.S. just four weeks ago

Gas prices typically rise in the summer months and that's when Gray says sales of hybrid vehicles typically pick up.

"Certainly you've seen that concern rise earlier than it normally does this year," Gray said.

Down the road at Courtesy Chevrolet, dealership director Scott Gruell says more people are coming in to learn about the Chevy Volt, which runs on a combination of electricity and gas.

"We've seen a spike in interest, not just people walking in but on the Internet, as well. Traffic has more than doubled, specifically for the Volt," Gruell said.

The average price of gas in Phoenix on Thursday was $3.66/gallon of regular unleaded, according to AAA. Elsewhere in the U.S. prices have already exceeded $4 /gallon.