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Size no longer matters in Texas

In the Texas  oil patch, small cars are selling faster than big trucks, because of the high price of gasoline. NBC's Jim Cummins reports from Dallas.

Here in Texas, it's all about being big. There’s "Big Oil," big open spaces and those big cars and trucks. But a growing number of Texas motorists have stopped buying big SUVs because of the high price of gasoline.

Jerry Reynolds calls it "pump shock."

"Two dollars seemed to be the magic number when people really were questioning what they were buying," says Reynolds, who owns the biggest Ford dealership in Dallas.

"Those people that happen to be in the market today are really looking smaller," he says.

Trish McGinn drove a two-ton Chevy Suburban for eight years, but recently replaced it with an Acura sedan. And she says the resale value of her Suburban had dropped like a rock.

"When we took it around to trade it in, they were offering us nothing for the Suburban because of the gas prices now," says McGinn.

Because of low mileage and high fuel prices, Texans like McGinn are willingly giving up a spacious, cushy ride, high above the traffic in their big SUVs, for less space, often less luxury and less protection from those remaining big trucks and SUVs on Texas roads.

And yet, according to one survey, Texas registrations of Chevy Suburbans and Tahoes in the first two months of 2005 were down 18 percent and 22 percent from the year before. Ford Expedition and Toyota Sequoia registrations were down double digits as well.

As in the rest of the country, there's a huge demand for low-mileage hybrid vehicles like Toyota's Prius, which runs on both gas and electric power.

Ray Hair of Denton, Texas, bought his Prius on eBay, used, for $1,000 more than the price of a new one.

"The Prius, the sticker says it's 60 miles to the gallon," says Hair. "That's going to reduce our weekly cost in gas to about $21 a week."

Dealer Jerry Reynolds says he's already sold all the hybrid Ford Escapes he's been allotted from Detroit for the entire year — and it's only May.

"We're not getting any huge numbers, but when we do get them, they sell almost immediately," he says.

In the oil patch, small cars are selling faster than big trucks, because of the high price of gasoline.