Gas prices

The price of gas continues to slide in Valdosta, following a months-long trend attributed to increased world oil production.

VALDOSTA — The price of gas continues to slide in Valdosta, following a months-long trend attributed to increased world oil production.

The lowest price for regular gasoline in the Valdosta area Sunday was $1.94 a gallon at two Quick Gas locations, one on the Valdosta Highway and the other on the Madison Highway, according to the price tracking website georgiagasprices.com.

Sam’s Club in Valdosta offered gas at $1.90 a gallon, but only for club members; the price was higher for non-member customers.

The website listed 43 retailers in the Valdosta area offering gas for under $2 a gallon.

Nationally, Kenny Palagi’s job selling Suburbans and SUVs is a little easier these days.

As the price of gasoline slides, sales of SUVs and trucks are climbing.

On the Denny Menholt Chevrolet lot in Billings, Mont., Palagi can comfortably talk up the features on a 2015 Suburban LTZ to customers who can afford the $60,000 price tag. Cost is less of a factor at this high end, he said.

But for lower-end, large vehicles, price matters more. And plummeting gas prices, below $2 a gallon at some Billings stations, help stimulate SUV sales, Palagi said.

“Now that the gas prices have gone down, that’s opened up the market,” said Palagi, a car salesman for 20-plus years.

Sales of sport-utility vehicles, trucks and other large passenger vehicles have spiked in recent months in the Billings area and nationwide, fueled by low gas prices, experts say. Car sales, while also growing, are doing so at a slower rate and ceding market share to larger vehicles.

According to owner Denny Menholt, sales of new Suburbans and Tahoes nearly doubled in November and December on his West End lot compared to the same time period in 2013.

For used larger vehicles, the market is even tighter, according to the dealership.

“We can’t keep a used Suburban in stock,” Menholt said last week.

Nevertheless, dealers remain cautious and flexible. Prices could rise again this year. Also, a weakened oil and gas industry could hurt the Eastern Montana economy, cutting into vehicle demand, they say.

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