The worst thing the auto industry can do is count on cheaper gasoline following the recent slide in oil prices.
Yes, it has been nice to see prices at the pump come down after benchmark crude oil fell from $150 a barrel last July to less than $50 today.
The drop reflected a global economic slowdown and worries about the global financial crisis. Both are reducing demand for oil. But make no mistake: This is a temporary phenomenon.
The International Energy Agency in Paris warned last November that oil prices will jump above $100 a barrel as soon as the world economy starts to improve. By 2030, the agency predicted, a barrel of oil will cost more than $200.
"The gap now evident between what is currently being built and what will be needed to keep pace with demand is set to widen sharply after 2010," the agency said in its 2008 World Energy Outlook.
A spokesman said that despite the accelerating global recession, the long-term projection is unchanged.